Monday, 29 November 2010

Improving cross-border rights for EU citizens

A month ago, Michel Barnier and Viviane Reding chose to join forces to launch reforms in order to improve the internal market and citizens' rights. The joint press release from the European Commission offers an overview (and it is available in 22 EU languages):

European Commission sets out plans to strengthen the Single Market with measures to boost growth and enhance citizens’ rights; Brussels, 27 October 2010, IP/10/1390

The two members of the Commission found a common theme when they stated that businesses and citizens know that hurdles still exist when they exercise their rights.


Cross-border rights

The Commission promised 25 measures to improve the rights of EU citizens. Before we go into details, here are the main points:

The first-ever EU Citizenship Report looks at everyday problems faced by citizens when they exercise their EU rights and extend aspects of their lives beyond national borders: when they travel, study, work, get married, buy a house or car in another EU country. The report includes 25 measures the Commission plans to take in the next three years to make life easier for European citizens:

Tourists/ Expatriates: The Commission will update the rules protecting holiday makers from, for example, bankruptcy of their travel provider during their holiday (IP/09/1824). The Commission will also propose additional ways to strengthen the rights of passengers in all modes of transport and enforce the rights of air passengers (e.g. in case of long delays and cancellations).The Commission will further reinforce the right to consular protection for EU citizens whose home Member State is not represented in third countries, by strengthening the legal framework and increasing awareness among citizens and consular officials.

Consumers: the Commission will help consumers get redress if they have problems with a trader, by facilitating the fast and inexpensive out-of-court resolution of disputes across borders, through the promotion of alternative dispute resolution and mediation.

Couples: the Commission will propose legislation to make it easier for international couples to know which courts have jurisdiction and which country's law applies to their jointly owned house or bank accounts.

Workers: the Commission is developing a new system of electronic exchange of information between national administrations so as to make it simpler and quicker for people working in another EU country to transfer their social security rights.

Car owners: the Commission will propose legislation to simplify the paperwork and formalities for the registration of cars bought in another EU country and will address cases in which citizens are required to pay registration tax twice.

In the near future posts on my blogs will look at individual documents and proposals regarding EU citizens. Only later will we (re)turn to internal market reform.



Ralf Grahn



P.S. 'Democracy and accountability at all levels of government' is the motto of the Federal Union. Federalism at the European level is consequently one of the themes for the Federal Union Blog, which strives to be a voice of learning and reason.