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European Immigration Law: Compliant with the Rights of National Minorities?

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This article examines a problem at the intersection of two areas of law: European immigration law and international law on the protection of minorities. The introduction of the EU entry requirements by the new Member States in Central Europe has had a negative impact on the intensity of cross-border travel between these states and their neighbors that remain outside of the EU. Groups that are among the most a fected by this development are national minorities divided by the EU external border. Strict entry requirements may prevent these people from maintaining people-to-people contacts and preserving their group identity. The right of national minorities to cross-border contacts is enshrined in several instruments of international law, in particular the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. On a model case of the Rusyn minority living alongside the border of Slovakia and Ukraine, this article will demonstrate the conflict between this legal instrument and EU immigration rules, thus pointing to a clash of two legal orders. On one hand, the international law for the protection of minorities obliges the new Member States to respect the right to cross-border contacts; on the other hand, EU law obliges them to apply strict entry requirements for third-country nationals, thus making those contacts difficult.


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