Language of document :

Judgment of the Court (Fifth Chamber) of 16 February 2017 (request for a preliminary ruling from the Vrhovno sodišče Republika Slovenija — Slovenia) — C.K., H.F., A.S. v Republika Slovenija

(Case C-578/16 PPU) 1

(Reference for a preliminary ruling — Area of freedom, security and justice — Borders, asylum and immigration — Dublin system — Regulation (EU) No 604/2013 — Article 4 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union — Inhuman or degrading treatment — Transfer of a seriously ill asylum seeker to the State responsible for examining his application — No substantial grounds for believing that there are proven systemic flaws in that Member State — Obligations imposed on the Member State having to carry out the transfer)

Language of the case: Slovenian

Referring court

Vrhovno sodišče Republika Slovenija

Parties to the main proceedings

Applicant: C.K., H.F., A.S.

Defendant: Republika Slovenija

Operative part of the judgment

1.    Article 17(1) of Regulation (EU) No 604/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2013 establishing the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an application for international protection lodged in one of the Member States by a third-country national or a stateless person must be interpreted as meaning that the question of the application, by a Member State, of the ‘discretionary clause’ laid down in that provision is not governed solely by national law and by the interpretation given to it by the constitutional court of that Member State, but is a question concerning the interpretation of EU law, within the meaning of Article 267 TFEU.

2.    Article 4 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union must be interpreted as meaning that:

–    even where there are no substantial grounds for believing that there are systemic flaws in the Member State responsible for examining the application for asylum, the transfer of an asylum seeker within the framework of Regulation No 604/2013 can take place only in conditions which exclude the possibility that that transfer might result in a real and proven risk of the person concerned suffering inhuman or degrading treatment, within the meaning of that article;

–    in circumstances in which the transfer of an asylum seeker with a particularly serious mental or physical illness would result in a real and proven risk of a significant and permanent deterioration in the state of health of the person concerned, that transfer would constitute inhuman and degrading treatment, within the meaning of that article;

–    it is for the authorities of the Member State having to carry out the transfer and, if necessary, its courts to eliminate any serious doubts concerning the impact of the transfer on the state of health of the person concerned by taking the necessary precautions to ensure that the transfer takes place in conditions enabling appropriate and sufficient protection of that person’s state of health. If, taking into account the particular seriousness of the illness of the asylum seeker concerned, the taking of those precautions is not sufficient to ensure that his transfer does not result in a real risk of a significant and permanent worsening of his state of health, it is for the authorities of the Member States concerned to suspend the execution of the transfer of the person concerned for such time as his condition renders him unfit for such a transfer; and

–    where necessary, if it is noted that the state of health of the asylum seeker concerned is not expected to improve in the short term, or that the suspension of the procedure for a long period would risk worsening the condition of the person concerned, the requesting Member State may choose to conduct its own examination of that person’s application by making use of the ‘discretionary clause’ laid down in Article 17(1) of Regulation No 604/2013.

Article 17(1) of Regulation No 604/2013, read in the light of Article 4 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, cannot be interpreted as requiring, in circumstances such as those at issue in the main proceedings, that Member State to apply that clause.

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1 OJ C 22, 23.01.2017.