48% of European citizens considers the right to free movement in the EU as the most important citizens’ right

According to a recent survey published by the Commission shows that almost half of the European citizens considers the right to move and reside freely in the European Union is the most important citizens’ right. Furthermore the Commission has helped to resolve 90% of open free movement cases.

The European Commission published the results of a survey in which the 48% of European citizens believes that the right to move and reside freely in the European Union is the most important one. In addition the Commission assured that is strongly committed to the effective enforcement of the EU free movement rules in all Member States.

Last year, several events had highlighted important problems with the respect of procedural and substantive guarantees under the EU's Free Movement Directive (2004/38/EC) by Member States. Thus, the Commission took determined action to resolve open free movement cases. Since summer 2010, a total of 786 issues were identified by the Commission and raised in bilateral meetings with Member States. The Commission made clear that if problems were not resolved, Treaty infringement proceedings would be inevitable. As a result, 711 issues (around 90%) were solved through dialogue and/or presentation by Member States of draft amended laws. In the French case, the government adopted the legislative amendments required by the Commission to ensure compliance with the Free Movement Directive on 16 June, including the safeguards that protect EU citizens against arbitrary expulsions or discriminatory treatment following the events which took place in September 2010. The Commission continues to work with the remaining countries to tackle outstanding issues, such as entry and residence for family members, residence cards for third-country nationals and safeguards against expulsions.

With regard to countries, by the end of 2010, Portugal and Finland had addressed the Commission's concerns through bilateral dialogue, providing sufficient clarifications on issues raised or adopting legislation ensuring conformity with the Directive. 14 Member States (Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Ireland, Latvia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia) have since submitted draft amending legislation including precise calendars for its swift adoption and entry into force to ensure full compliance with the Free Movement Directive. The Commission is looking into these as well as into the details of planned or recently adopted measures in Denmark and the Netherlands to ensure full compliance with EU law. Regarding unresolved problems with the remaining Member States, infringement proceedings were launched over the period from March to June 2011 against Austria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Germany, Malta, Lithuania, Spain, Sweden, Poland and the United Kingdom. The free movement situation in Belgium is under analysis by the Commission.