In Case C-444/17 Préfet des Pyrénées-Orientales v Abdelaziz Arib, Procureur de la République, Procureur général près la cour d’appel de Montpellier, Advocate General Szpunar proposes that the Court should rule that the ‘Returns Directive’ must be applied to third-country national where internal border controls have been reinstated. Mr Abdelaziz Arib, of Moroccan nationality, was checked, in French territory near to the land border between France and Spain, aboard a coach coming from Morocco. He had previously been subject to an expulsion order removing him from French territory. Suspected of having entered French territory illegally, he was arrested and held in policy custody and the préfet des Pyrénées- Orientales (Prefect of the Département of Pyrénées-Orientales, France; ‘the préfet’) adopted an order requiring him to leave French territory and ordered his administrative detention. His detention in police custody was rescinded by the tribunal de grande instance de Montpellier (Regional Court, Montpellier, France) and, as a consequence, the subsequent proceedings, including the administrative detention, since it was not possible to place him in custody. The cour d’appel deMontpellier (Court of Appeal, Montpellier, France) confirmed the decision and the préfet appealed to the Cour de cassation (Court of Cassation, France).
The principle of freedom of movement within the Schengen Area entails an absence of border control of persons crossing the internal borders between the Member States. The check at issue was made in June 2016 during the period of temporary reinstatement in France of internal border controls. Since France had declared a state of emergency, checks at the internal borders, in accordance with the provisions of the Schengen Border Code or Regulation (EU) 2016/399 had been reinstated in the fact of a serious threat to public policy or internal security.