The case in object
In this particular case, a Syrian national who had previously been granted refugee status in Greece has subsequently applied for international protection in Germany. However, Germany rejected her application for refugee status, but granted her subsidiary protection.
The applicant then decided to appeal the denial of refugee status. In particular, it was pointed out that, due to the living conditions of refugees in Greece, she ran the risk of being subject to a degrading treatment. Therefore, she could not be sent back to that State.
This case raised some general questions, namely: what are the obligations of a second Member State where the applicant submits a new application for international protection?
Specifically, the question was whether that Member State was obliged to accept the application or had a choice to reject it. The German federal administrative court therefore requested an opinion from the ECJ on the correct interpretation of the EU rules concerning the right to international protection.
The European Court’s conclusion
After analyzing the issue, the ECJ concluded that the European Union law does not provide for the principle of mutual recognition of refugee status. In fact, the relevant EU regulations do not entail an obligation to recognize, without specific examination, the international protection already granted by another EU State.
However, the ECJ emphasized that the second Member State considering the new application for international protection cannot simply ignore the fact that a first Member State had already granted the refugee status. Indeed, this should be one of the elements supporting the new application.
In addition, the new Member State should prioritize the examination of the new application by making use of the information exchange mechanism between these Member States, where necessary.