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Migration and Home Affairs

Family reunification

The Directive respects the fundamental rights and principles recognised in the European Convention on Human Rights and in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.

For the past 20 years, family reunification has been one of the main reasons for immigration into the EU.

Legal framework

The Family reunification Directive establishes the rules under which non-EU nationals can bring their family members to the EU country in which they are legally residing.

More information on the key provisions of the Directive can be found in the Summary of EU legislation – Family reunification Directive.


  • harmonise the rules for exercising the right to family reunification
  • facilitate the integration of non-EU nationals in the EU countries
  • contribute to the creation of socio-cultural stability
  • promote economic and social cohesion

Policy timeline

  • 2019

Second implementation report on the Family Reunification Directive 2003/86/EC, together with the Fitness Check Legal migration.

  • 2014

The Commission adopted a Communication on guidance for application of Directive 2003/86/EC on the right to family reunification. It advises EU countries in their implementation of the Directive in order to achieve a more consistent policy and practice across the EU.

  • 2011

The Commission adopts a “Green paper on the right to family reunification of third-country nationals living in the European Union” launched as part of a broad public consultation on family reunification which took place to gather opinions from stakeholders and decide on the policy follow-up.

  • 2008

First implementation report of Family reunification Directive.

  • 2003

The Family reunification Directive (2003/86/EC) is adopted.

  • 1999

Proposal for a Council Directive on the right to family reunification.