FORTRESS Europe’s walls got a little bit higher today as euro judges handed down a shock judgement shutting off a key visa avenue for refugees stranded in the Middle East.
In a surprise ruling EU justices went against the legal advice of their own advocate general and said member states do not have to hand out permits to people at risk of torture or inhumane treatment.
The case revolved around a Christian couple from Syria who argued that they should be granted a humanitarian permit by Belgium after turning up at the country’s embassy in Lebanon.
National authorities in Brussels had vigorously opposed the move, which would effectively allow people to apply for visas from anywhere in the world, saying it would spark a fresh influx of asylum seekers.
The judgement will be seen as a litmus test for Europe’s attitudes towards mass migration, which has hardened significantly over the last year in the face of growing euroscepticism.