ECJ C‑68/89 Commission v Netherlands [1991]

This case makes it clear that EU citizens and their non-EU family members are not required to answer border officials’ questions:

  • about the purpose and duration of their journey
  • about how much money they have for the journey
  • as well as other non-material questions (see paragraph 13)

This decision does not prohibit border officers from asking, but it does mean you do not have to answer.

From the decision Case C‑68/89 Commission v Netherlands [1991]:

13 More generally, the obligation to answer questions put by frontier officials cannot be a precondition for the entry of a national of one Member State into the territory of another.

Operative part

On those grounds, THE COURT hereby:

1. Declares that, by maintaining in force and by applying legislation by virtue of which citizens of a Member State may be required to answer questions put by border officials regarding the purpose and duration of their journey and the financial means at their disposal for it before they are permitted to enter Netherlands territory, the Kingdom of the Netherlands has failed to fulfil the obligations imposed on it by Council Directive 68/360 of 15 October 1968 on the abolition of restrictions on movement and residence within the Community for workers of Member States and their families and Council Directive 73/148/EEC of 21 May 1973 on the abolition of restrictions on movement and residence within the Community for nationals of Member States with regard to establishment and the provision of services;

Or rewritten more clearly, and a bit more generally, by the editor of this blog:

Citizens of a Member State [and their non-EU family] are not required to answer questions put by border officials regarding the purpose and duration of their journey and the financial means at their disposal for [their journey] before they are permitted to enter [a different member state].

While the Commission was suing the Netherlands,the results of the case apply equally to all EU/EEA member states.

Who are “border officials”?  Border guards clearly are, but it would equally apply to visa officers, whose official duty is completely focused on borders and have a complementary role to border guards.

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