Cross-border couples ask to suspend travel restrictions for non-EU countries
Wednesday, 16 September 2020
The collective “Love is not tourism”, which represents couples in long-distance relationships and therefore separated by borders, has filed a petition with the Council of State to “suspend in extreme urgency” travel restrictions to countries outside the European Union.
According to the movement, some government decisions are illegal and several principles of good governance have been flouted. Interior Minister Pieter De Crem has also been given formal notice.
A meeting between the collective and members of the cabinet of Social Affairs Minister Maggie De Block took place on Monday. The meeting did not make it possible to move things forward, so the collective decided to turn to the Council of State, which should examine the request on Monday, according to lawyer Tina Merckx.
The collective has long been campaigning for an exception to the restrictions for couples in long-distance relationships.
At the end of August, the National Security Council (NSC) decided to allow cross-border couples to see each other, provided they could prove the durability of their relationship.
In concrete terms, in order to be reunited, the two persons must either have lived together legally and continuously in Belgium or abroad for at least one year before the application for reunification.
Alternatively, they must have known each other for at least two years and provide two proofs that they have maintained regular contacts by telephone, ordinary mail or e-mail and that they have met at least three times in the two years preceding the application for reunification and that these meetings lasted at least 45 days (e.g. airline tickets, etc.).
A third option is to have a child in common.
However, this exception to the restrictions has never been included in a ministerial order following the NSC. According to Merckx, these conditions are also taken directly from the Asylum Act and therefore do not apply to a foreign lover who wants to come to Belgium for a short period of time.
Moreover, these conditions are considered discriminatory by the collective. “If the conditions were less strict we could support a larger group of people. Some of them still haven’t seen their partner for six months,” said Pablo Prado, coordinator of the movement.