Thursday 27 November 2008

Statewatch alert: EU Council curbing free movement?

A press release by Statewatch sounds the alarm concerning the very principles the European Community (European Union) is built on. Rolling back free movement of persons endangers a fundamental principle and trying to forestall more open legislative procedures by intergovernmental fiat is a grave procedural choice.

I give you the text of the Statewatch press release with including links for further study:

Press release, 27 November 2008JUSTICE AND HOME AFFAIRS COUNCIL, Brussels, 27 November:Restriction on the EU freedom of movement of citizens who have been convicted of serious crime or for "repeated offences" (which may be "low level")

Ministers are discussing the adoption of Council Conclusions: Free movement of persons: abuses and substantive problems – Draft Council conclusions on abuses and misuses of the right to free movement of persons (16151/1/08, 26 November 2008, pdf):

These say that: "Only those exercising their rights in the spirit of the Treaty should benefit from freedom of movement." While referring to third country nationals the proposals would apply to EU citizens as well and allow Member States to deny entry to those who:"break the law in a sufficiently serious manner by committing serious and repeated offences

"The scope of "repeated offences" is undefined and could apply, for example, to protestors who take part in cross-border demonstrations.

These Conclusions are based on a proposal put forward by the UK: Statewatch Analysis: The UK proposals on EU free movement law: an attack on the rule of law and EU fundamental freedoms by Professor Steve Peers - University of Essex (pdf):

The draft conclusions constitute an attack on the rule of law and the fundamental freedom of EU citizens and their family members to move freely within the Community. They indicate an intention to:

- ignore a recent important ruling of the Court of Justice as well as many prior rulings of the Court;

- attempt to dictate to the Court how to interpret EC legislation;

- amend or re-interpret EC legislation at the dictat of interior ministries, without applying any form of legislative process; and

- dictate to the Commission how to perform its independent task as guardian of EC law.

The UK proposal includes considering: "the cumulative damage caused by continuous low-level offending can amount to a sufficiently serious threat to public policy"

United Kingdom delegation: Free movement of persons: abuses and substantive problems - Draft Council Conclusions (EU doc no: 15903/08. 18 November 2008, pdf):


Intergovernmental law-making without openness and transparency is once again at work. Swift scrutiny by the European Parliament and national parliaments is called for to safeguard the rights of EU citizens.

Ralf Grahn


  1. Will this kind of thing be more or less likely if the Lisbon Treaty is finally ratified ?

  2. Fergus,

    I would believe that open and transparent law-making would lessen the risk of hasty and one-sided legislation.

    Personally, I find that the age-old principle of free movement and the Citizenship Directive as its concrete manifestation are fundamental European values, not to be shunted aside by intergovernmental cabals working practically in the dark.

    This does not mean that I am averse to arguments based on internal security (or external security, for that matter), but the rule of law requires certain standards to be upheld when making laws.


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