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Monday, 6 April 2009

Union citizenship and freedom of movement: MEPs slam Member States

European Parliament Press Release - Justice and home affairs - 02-04-2009

Since 2006 over eight million Europeans have exercised their right to reside in another EU Member State. However, the Member States have erected many obstacles to the free movement of the EU's citizens, according to the European Parliament. The public still has little awareness of its rights, including the right to vote in local and European elections in the country where they live, say MEPs. The report was adopted with 500 votes in favour, 104 against and 55 abstentions. Practical application of the right to freedom of movement and residence of citizens and members of their families in the territory of the Member States is disappointing, say MEPs in an own-initiative report by Adina-Ioana Vălean (ALDE, RO). In fact, no Member State has fully enacted the whole directive in its national law.

Major infringements of fundamental rights have therefore been identified, including some relating to the right of entry and residence for family members from non-EU countries and the obligation for EU citizens, when applying for a residence permit, to submit additional documents such as work permits or satisfactory proof of accommodation, something not required under the directive.

MEPs therefore call on the Commission to take action against Member States whose national laws are incompatible with the directive. National administrative practices very often constitute serious obstacles to the exercise of their rights by citizens, says the House.

The report points out that the Commission has received over 1,800 complaints, 40 parliamentary questions and 33 petitions on these matters. Five infringement proceedings have been launched. MEPs believe the situation shows the Commission's inability to ensure that Member States comply with the directive in consistent and timely fashion and to manage the sizeable number of complaints lodged by the public regarding the implementation of the directive.

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