In his Opinion in the P.I. case delivered on March 6 this year, AG Bot came up with a curious reading of ‘integration into society’ when dealing with a potential expulsion of an EU citizen who is a permanent resident. In the view of the learned AG committing a crime ‘shows a total lack of desire to integrate into society’ (para. 60), disqualifying the criminal from protection against expulsion (para. 49). This curious reasoning potentially deprives the status of permanent residence under directive 2004/38/EC of much of identifiable meaning.
The Citizenship directive (directive 2004/38/EC) regulates the conditions under which nationals of a Member State can move to and reside freely within the territory of the Member States. In short, the directive introduces a system in which the longer you live in another Member State, the more rights you have. For the Court, the length of residence is proof of a certain level of integration into the society of the host Member State (see for instance case C-158/07 Jacqueline Förster).
Expulsion, for example, is almost impossible after 10 years of prior legal residence. Article 28(3)(a) provides that an expulsion decision may only be taken against Union citizens legally resident for a period of 10 years on ‘imperative grounds of public security, as defined by Member States’. From Tsakouridis (C-145/09) we already know that dealing in drugs can provide such an ‘imperative ground of public security’. But what if we are dealing with the rape of a step-daughter? The issue of the case in P.I basically comes down to the need for the Court to clarify when EU citizen permanent residents can be sent back to their Member State of nationality, which, in turn, necessitates answering the question about the meaning of the ‘imperative grounds of public security’.