Letter to Commissioner Johansson on bi-national unmarried couples

Dear Commissioner Johansson,

The outbreak of the Corona Crisis has brought substantial hardships to many individuals within the European Union and around the globe. These hardships have proven particularly hard to weather while being separated from loved ones, due to restriction measures implemented in response to the crisis. Many families, in particular unmarried couples, remain separated by the ongoing closure of the external borders and the lack of adequate exemptions for reunification.

While we acknowledge that a reduction of international travel constituted an important component in containing the spread of the virus, these restrictive measures have to undergo constant scrutiny and need to be regularly adjusted to ensure ongoing proportionality and appropriateness. In that respect we welcome your efforts to replace internal border closures within the EU with more targeted measures, as well as your first steps towards a coordinated and criteria-based opening of the external borders.

Nonetheless, the situation of unmarried bi-national couples is being continuously overlooked. Bi-national relationships that span the external borders of the EU have in most cases no opportunity for reunification, while being separated for almost half a year by now.

Individual Member States like Denmark have acknowledged this problem and introduced special measures to allow for the reunification of unmarried couples from countries where travel restrictions are still in place. These exemptions are combined with certain conditions and additional testing opportunities, to ensure that these measures do not act counter to the containment of the spread of the virus.

Extending the family exemption to unmarried couples is crucial in ensuring that all forms of families can be reunited and be supportive of each other in these trying times. In this respect, we would like to stress that rainbow families and members of the LGBTIQ Community face particular problems when their reunification remains conditional upon providing proof of marital status. The recognition of certified same-sex marriages varies between countries and hence occasionally prevents the reunification despite the certified marital status of the partners.

We, the undersigning Members of the European Parliament, therefore urge you to follow Denmark’s example and to promote an extension of the family exemption to unmarried couples in a coordinated process of re-opening the European external borders. We hope that your efforts will lead to a mainstreaming of these measures across all Member states. We also ask you to ensure that these measures are sensitive and responsive to the needs of particularly vulnerable groups like the LGBTIQ Community and refugees.

Kind regards,
MEP Rasmus ANDRESEN, Greens/EFA
MEP Hannah NEUMANN, Greens/EFA

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