Language of document : ECLI:EU:C:2014:2101

Case C‑481/13

Mohammad Ferooz Qurbani

(Request for a preliminary ruling from the Oberlandesgericht Bamberg)

(Reference for a preliminary ruling — Geneva Convention of 28 July 1951 relating to the Status of Refugees — Article 31 — Third country national who has entered the territory of a Member State after passing through another Member State — Use of the services of people smugglers — Unauthorised entry and stay — Presentation of a forged passport — Criminal penalties — Lack of jurisdiction of the Court)

Summary — Judgment of the Court (Fourth Chamber), 17 July 2014

Questions referred for a preliminary ruling — Jurisdiction of the Court — Limits — Request for interpretation of the Geneva Convention relating to the Status of Refugees — Provisions of the convention not binding upon the European Union — Failure to mention any rule of EU law making a renvoi to Article 31 of the convention — Lack of jurisdiction of the Court

(Art. 267 TFEU; Geneva Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, Art. 31; Council Directive 2004/83)

It is only where and in so far as the European Union has assumed the powers previously exercised by the Member States in the field to which an international convention not concluded by the European Union applies and, therefore, the provisions of the convention have the effect of binding the European Union that the Court has jurisdiction to interpret such a convention.

Although several pieces of EU legislation have been adopted in the field to which the Geneva Convention relating to the Status of Refugees applies as part of the implementation of a Common European Asylum System, it is undisputed that the Member States have retained certain powers falling within that field, in particular relating to the subject-matter covered by Article 31 of that convention. Therefore, the Court does not have jurisdiction to interpret directly Article 31 of that convention.

The fact that Article 78 TFEU provides that the common policy on asylum must be in accordance with the Geneva Convention and that Article 18 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union makes clear that the right to asylum is to be guaranteed with due respect for that convention and the Protocol relating to the status of refugees of 31 January 1967 is not such as to call into question the finding that the Court does not have jurisdiction.

In addition, although it is true that it is clearly in the interests of the European Union that, in order to forestall future differences of interpretation, the provisions of international agreements which have been taken over by national law and by EU law should be given a uniform interpretation, irrespective of the circumstances in which they are to apply, it must be noted that Article 31 of the Geneva Convention has not been taken over in a piece of EU legislation, a number of provisions of EU law referring to that article.

Although the Court did indeed already accept that it had jurisdiction to interpret the provisions of the Geneva Convention to which EU law made a renvoi, such cannot be the case where the request for a preliminary ruling contains no mention of any rule of EU law which makes a renvoi to Article 31 of the Geneva Convention.

(see paras 23-26, 28)