Citizens Without Borders – a study on the application of freedom of movement and residence rights of EU citizens and their family members.
The premise of the research was the alarming awareness shared by the project partners that in many Member States European citizens’ right to free movement and residence was not fully observed despite the formal transposition of the Directive.
The research which was carried out in the Czech Republic, France, Italy, Spain and Romania draws from diverse data sources such as official national documents and reports released by public entities as well as non-profit organizations; interviews with legal practitioners, experts in the field, local civil servants, officers of police departments, civil servants of the Ministry of the Interior and other members of NGOs. All the collected data has been integrated with another essential source of information - European citizens, the data was drawn from the requests for assistance, claims and complaints addressed to partner organizations’ help-desks.
Main findings of the research:
The study points out that the Directive is still misapplied in every partner country in the project as far as non-EU family members’ right to entry into EU territory is concerned, especially due to the unjustified request of an entry visa for family-reunification and long delays in applications processing. In the case of the right to residence administrative formalities still constitute severe obstacles to the fulfillment of this right. In many countries the notion of sufficient resources is still controversial and represents a serious problem in applying for registration certificates, while in some other countries it is difficult to provide an administrative evidence of the status of dependent family members. In regards to the topic of family members, in countries such as France, Italy and Spain, spouses find severe obstacles in getting residence cards. Problems arise not only for couples who live together or same sex spouses, whose rights are recognized only after a court decision, but often for married couples as well, who are constantly confronted with the police suspicions of fraudulent marriage.
Expulsion procedures are another troublesome area which some Member States do not seem to handle with the required accuracy. It has been noted that in the presence of a criminal conviction an offender quite often faces automatic expulsion without any consideration of any “present and sufficiently serious threat affecting one of the fundamental interests of the society of the host Member State”.
On the whole, a general lack of information on the subject has been observed. The study registered a deeply insufficient level of information both among legal practitioners and among EU citizens themselves concerning the knowledge of legislation, rights and duties related to freedom of movement and right to residency in EU Member States.
The final chapter aims at connecting research findings with Citizens Without Borders’ future actions in the attempt to draw up concrete solutions for the enforcement of EU citizens’ rights. For this reason the chapter provides some specific recommendations arising from the exchange of positive procedures existing in some countries.
The English version of the study is available in the section “For download”.
The study can also be downloaded in other languages here: http://www.meltingpot.org/+-CitizensWithoutBorders-+.html