The object of this research is the reconstruction of the existing legal response by European Union states to the phenomenon of immigration. It seeks to analyse the process of conferral of protection.
One main dimension is selected and discussed: the case law of the national courts. The study focuses on the legal status of immigrants resulting from the intervention of these national courts.
The research shows that although the courts have conferred an increasing protection on immigrants, this has not challenged the fundamental principle of the sovereignty of the states to decide, according to their discretionary prerogatives, which immigrants are allowed to enter and stay in their territories. Notwithstanding the differences in the general constitutional and legal structures, the research also shows that the courts of the three countries considered – France, Germany and Spain – have progressively moved towards converging solutions in protecting immigrants.
The research contributes to a better understanding of the different legal orders analysed.