C-60/00 Mary Carpenter [2002]

In C-60/00 Mary Carpenter v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2002] ECR I-6279, the European Court of Justice addressed the application of fundamental rights when a national measure falls within the scope of the Treaties, emphasising that even a minor and tenuous connection is sufficient for the consideration of fundamental rights.

The case involved Mrs Carpenter, a third-country national who had married a British national after overstaying her leave. Her application for leave to remain as the spouse of a British national was refused. Mr Carpenter, who traveled to other Member States for work, argued that the refusal infringed his rights under Article 49 EC (now Article 51 TFEU), which guarantees the freedom of movement to provide services, and Directive 78/148/EEC abolishing restrictions on movement and residence.

The Court held that Article 49 EC, interpreted in light of the fundamental right to respect for family life, precludes the deportation of Mrs Carpenter. The separation of the couple was deemed detrimental to their family life and the conditions under which Mr Carpenter exercised his fundamental freedom under Article 49 EC. The deportation of Mrs Carpenter was considered an interference with Mr Carpenter's right to respect for his family life.

Furthermore, the Court emphasised that the decision to deport Mrs Carpenter did not strike a fair balance between Mr Carpenter's right to respect for his family life and the maintenance of public order and safety. Notably, the Court considered the genuineness of the marriage and the absence of other complaints against Mrs Carpenter in its assessment.

This case underscored the significance of considering fundamental rights, particularly the right to family life, in the context of freedom of movement provisions within the EU Treaties. It set a precedent by acknowledging that even seemingly minor connections can trigger the application of fundamental rights when analysing the impact of national measures on individuals' rights under EU law.
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