Keywords: Returns Directive; New Unlawful Entry; Sentence of Imprisonment; First Return Procedure; Breach of an Entry Ban; Observance of Fundamental Rights
In the "Celaj" judgment, the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that the Returns Directive does not preclude domestic legislation which provides for a prison sentence as a criminal law penalty for non-EU citizens who unlawfully re-enter the country in breach of an entry ban. The judgment in "Celaj" appears not consistent with the CJEU's well-established jurisprudence on the interplay between domestic penal sanctions and the effectiveness of return policy as laid down in the Returns Directive. The Court relied on an apparent clear distinction between return proceedings imposed for irregular entry and subsequent re-entry in breach of an entry ban. However, the wording of the provisions of the Returns Directive, supported by the underlying objective of the Directive repetitively stressed in the Court's previous rulings, does not warrant finding such a distinction.