Progresses made in the field of Freedom of movement within the European Union

The Council exchanged views on the Commission’s guidelines for better transposition and application of Directive 2004/38/EC on the right of citizens of the Union and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States.

Since its inception, free movement of people has been a fundamental principle of the European Union (EU). It entails the right of EU citizens to travel freely around the Member States and to settle anywhere within the EU.

A variety of measures have been put into place in order to guarantee the correct application of such a right, including Directive 2004/38/EC (Directive) on the right of citizens of the Union and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States. This Directive brings together all existing measures related to the principle of free movement. More specifically it lays down (a) the conditions governing the exercise of the right of free movement and residence within the territory of the Member States by Union citizens and their family members; (b) the right of permanent residence in the territory of the Member States for Union citizens and their family members; (c) the limits placed on the rights set out in (a) and (b) on grounds of public policy, public security or public health.

Despite its implementation deadline was set in April 2009, none of the Member States have entirely transposed the Directive into national law, as both the reports on the application of the Directive of the European Parliament and of the Commission pointed out. The reports concluded that the overall transposition of the Directive was rather disappointing, therefore the Commission adopted a Communication to the European Parliament and the Council on guidance for better transposition and application of Directive 2004/38/EC on the right of citizens of the Union and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States. The guidelines clarify the rights of EU citizens and their family members and offer assistance to Member States on the measures they can take to tackle criminality, abuse and marriages of convenience.

During the JHA Council meeting on 21 and 22 September, the Council welcomed the Commission’s Communication. The Council recalled the fundamental value that the right of free movement has for the European Union and underlined that every effort should be made to prevent and combat any abuse of such a principle. It insisted that Member States must correctly implement the applicable law with the utmost urgency. To reach this goal, the Council has called Member States to exchange information on abuse and fraud and report to the Commission on systematic trends. Once these systematic trends are detected, the Council will elaborate on ways in which these trends might be addressed through the most appropriate means.”

Leda Bargiotti

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