On 6 March 2018, the Grand Chamber of the EU heard argument in joined cases C-391/16 M and C-77/17 and C-78/17 X and X. The cases raise the question whether Article 14(4) of Directive 2011/95/EU (the recast Qualification Directive) is compatible with both EU primary law (Article 18 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Article 78 TFEU) as well as with the Geneva Convention on the status of refugees. Article 14(4), which mirrors the wording of the non-refoulement exception in Article 33(2) of the Geneva Convention, permits Member States to withdraw EU refugee status from refugees who are convicted of a particularly serious crime or where there are reasonable grounds to considering them a danger to Member State security. In effect, it provides Member States with the ability to restrict the rights of those refugees who could, because of their criminality or security risk, be lawfully expelled under Article 33(2) of the Geneva Convention, but whose expulsion is separately prevented by Article 3 ECHR or Article 4 of the Charter.
The applicants argued that the provision finds no equivalent in the Geneva Convention and is, therefore, a new exclusion or cessation clause. The European Parliament, European Council and European Commission, as well as a number of Member States, including the United Kingdom, intervened to support the legality of Article 14(4).
David Blundell represented the United Kingdom in both cases.