Order of French- and German-speaking Bars v Belgian state (represented by the Minister for Social Affairs and Health, and for Asylum and Migration, Public Service Interior, Immigration Office) and FEDASIL
BE: The Brussels Court of first instance underlined that material reception conditions are to be ensured from the moment of (online) registration
According to the ELENA Weekly Legal Update of 9 October 2020:
"On 05 October 2020, the Brussels Court of First Instance, seating as an interim relief judge, condemned the Belgian state for not offering material reception to applicants for international protection who had electronically made their application for international protection to the Aliens Office.
On 17 March 2020, the Belgian government temporarily suspended the registration of international protection applications because it could not guarantee the safety of applicants at the registration center due to the COVID-19 crisis. Subsequently, on 3 April 2020, the Belgian state announced that it would restart its registration system. Under the new procedure applicants would first electronically register and then be invited by the Aliens Office to ‘make, register and lodge’ their application for international protection. However, in the period between the electronic registration and the appointment at the Aliens Office, applicants would not have access to material reception because the electronic registration, according to the Belgian authorities, did not amount to the ‘the making of an application for international protection’, which is the legal precondition for accessing material reception. Consequently, the applicants in the case at hand, mostly Belgian NGOs, asked the state to enable electronic registrants to access their right of reception and, ultimately, brought the case before an interim relief judge, whose jurisdiction is limited to urgent matters.
The judge underlines that the electronic registration for an appointment at the Aliens Office constitutes the ‘making of an application for international protection’ and thus gives the registrar the quality of applicant. Indeed, under Article 6 of the Procedures Directive (Directive 2013/32), the quality of applicant does not rely on the formal lodging or registration of an application for international protection, but on the mere making of such application to ‘another authority’ (par. 94, C-36/20), which is not necessarily done in person. Furthermore, she recalls that the making of an application, under Article 17 of the Receptions Directive (Directive 2013/33) and Articles 2, 3 and 6§1 of the Belgian Aliens Act, entails a right to access material reception conditions and that the time between making and registering an application must not exceed 10 days. Therefore, she concludes that applicants should have access to the material reception as soon as they electronically register and that the time without reception between the electronic registration and the appointment is both unlawful and violates the subjective right of the applicants to live a dignified life, inter alia, protected under Article 1 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights.
She therefore orders the Belgian state, within a delay of 30 days, to stop blocking applicants for international protection from accessing material reception, or receiving a decision on this access, from the moment that they introduce the online registration. She adds that, if the State does not comply within 30 days, a penalty of 2.500 euro (limited to a total of 100 000 euro) will be imposed for every day that they do not comply with the order."
Access to procedures; COVID-19/Emergency measures; Reception/Accommodation;
ELENA Weekly Legal Updates
Belgium, Court of first instance [Tribunal de première instance], Order of French- and German-speaking Bars v Belgian state (represented by the Minister for Social Affairs and Health, and for Asylum and Migration, Public Service Interior, Immigration Office) and FEDASIL, 2020/105/C, 05 October 2020. Link redirects to the English summary in the EASO Case Law Database.