Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Improve information about EU citizens’ rights!

Ensuring correct implementation of the Citizens Directive 2004/38 by all EU member states has proven to be a tough task for the European Commission (brief background history in Swedish).

The Directive 2004/38 on the right of citizens of the Union and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States is mentioned only once in the twelve pages of the Commission’s 27th annual report on monitoring the application of EU law (2009); Brussels, 1.10.2010 COM(2010) 538 final:

Following the Metock judgment [C-127/08], guidelines were discussed in the expert group on the application of Directive 2004/38 before the launch of a programme of bilateral meetings with all Member States on the transposition of EU rules on free movement of citizens and their family members.

Commission staff documents missing

We saw that the monitoring report from the Commission was accompanied by two SEC documents. However, if you search for SEC(2010) 1143 or 1144 under SEC documents on Eur-Lex, you get the less than helpful reply ‘Not available in English’.

I wonder: Why has the Commission posted only the brief overview, but omitted the ‘beef’, which is contained in the detailed annexes?

EP Legislative observatory Oeil

Even the Legislative observatory Oeil of the European Parliament does not list the accompanying documents with the report from the Commission COM(2010) 538 in the customary manner, but if we are resilient enough to search for the annexes separately we actually find what we are looking for.

Searching should be easier.

Sector by sector analysis

We find a hefty 512 page document with more detailed analysis sector by sector, a treasure trove for researchers and lawyers:

Commission staff working document: Situation in the different sectors; Brussels, 1.10.2010 SEC(2010) 1143 final; 512 pages.

There are numerous references to the sad state of implementation of Directive 2004/38. I am going to quote just two examples.

The first one is in section Report on progress made in 2009 regarding free movement of workers (on page 62):

The Commission services have received many queries and complaints concerning the residence rights of migrant workers in the host Member State. It is still partly due to the fact that in May 2006, Directive 2004/38/EC effectively entered into force and introduced new residence formalities and some important new rights (such as the right of permanent residence). With a view to ensuring the respect of the provisions of Directive 2004/38/EC, the Commission services have been organising bilateral contacts with Member States to make sure that the Directive is correctly transposed and applied across the EU.

My second example is in the section 14.6. Free movement of persons (from page 439, the quote from the following page), where the Commission indicates the state of free movement of persons:

In 2009, the Commission continued to deal with a large number of enquiries and complaints in the area of free movement of persons – 1000 were replied in 2009 compared with 1070 in 2008. Complaints management was also a significant part of ensuring full and proper implementation of Directive 2004/38/EC. In 2009, 205 complaints were registered with the Secretariat-General (compared with 81 registered in 2008).

There were 37 written EP questions and 36 petitions in the area of free movement of persons in 2009.

Statistical annex

The other accompanying document is (part of?) a statistical annex, with 118 pages of detailed information about procedures:

Commission staff working document: Statistical annex - Annexes I to III (Volume 1); Brussels, 1.10.2010 SEC(2010) 1144 final


The Commission and the European Parliament should do more to inform about problems concerning the implementation of EU law, and to foster debate on these issues. This includes the enforcement of the rights of EU citizens and their families to free movement and residence.

I hope that the European Parliament takes a close look at citizens’ rights when it starts to evaluate the report on the application of EU law in 2009.

In mid October 2010 we are still looking at a report regarding 2009, however forward-looking the Commission has tried to make it.

There is a need for more timely information. The Commission has an opportunity to show its dedication to citizens’ rights, including Directive 2004/38, when it communicates its actions with regard to Paris and the other capitals.

The new Directorate-General Justice has formally updated its web pages, but the newsroom and the other pages are still more burdened by history than filled with complete and updated information. You have to go to the pages of justice commissioner Viviane Reding, which are more up to date (see News, Press releases and Speeches), but there are still many cracks between the floor boards.

Ralf Grahn

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