Europe

EU court rules states not obliged to grant visas to refugees

Europe's top court has ruled that European Union member states aren't obliged to grant humanitarian visas to people who want to enter their territory to apply for asylum.

The decision announced Tuesday came after a Belgian court in October ordered the government to give humanitarian visas to a family in war-torn Syria.

The European Court of Justice has ruled that allowing people to choose where to get international protection would undermine the EU system establishing which country should handle asylum applications.

But the Luxembourg-based court said member state courts remain free to grant the visas under national law.

Friends in Belgium had offered to lodge and feed the family, believed still to be in Syria. The government fears that granting visas would open the floodgates to more applications.