Friday 22 January 2010

Discrimination frustrates free movement in the EU

The free movement of people has been an aim since the 1957 EEC Treaty. Discrimination on grounds of nationality has been prohibited for as long. Directive 2004/38 on the right of the citizens of the (European) Union and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States is supposed to enhance and protect these rights.

However, restrictive and discriminatory practices persist in the EU member states, making a mockery out of citizens’ rights. A short blog post on Talking about the EU – Moving on up (21 January 2010) – started a revealing discussion about Kafkaesque experiences of absurd practices facing people who move from one EU country to another (Britain).

From Sainsbury’s not accepting EU identity cards to problems opening a bank account, renting a flat or getting a contract for a mobile phone or broadband access, the ingenuity of private firms and landlords to frustrate movers seems endless.

This is an important discussion about the everyday experiences of EU citizens. You can contribute to the discussion on Talking about the EU.

What have you or your expat friends experienced?

What should be done?

Ralf Grahn

P.S. Educate yourself and brush up your language skills by reading Euroblogs. On Bruxelles2 (in French) the journalist Nicolas Grosverheyde writes expertly about the security and defence issues facing the European Union.

Bruxelles2 is listed with more than 500 great Euroblogs on growing multilingual, your useful one-stop-shop for fact, opinion and gossip on European affairs, i.a. politics, policies, communication, economics, finance, business, civil society and law. You can also subscribe to the RSS feed for new blog posts appearing on

By the way, I also discuss European issues in Finnish on Eurooppaoikeus and in Swedish on Grahnblawg.


  1. Dear Ralf,

    I do not blame the practical problems re relocating to the UK – London on the UK or London. I think that these are the results of the non-uniform laws that exist in the EU and make the EU Single Marker more a theory than a reality for micro and small companies, as well as the EU-wide provision of Services as well as relocation and job search (eg how many member states have not yet Transposed the EU Services directive)?

    The practical issues that I and other are facing or have faced when intra-EU relocating are IMO a result of the above. After all, many are due to the red tape resulting from the anti money laundering EU directives. If the UK is enforcing them ”strictly” and that causes problems, is that the UK’s fault or the Directives’?

    Best regards

    PS. I have set up an ongoing blog to discuss those practical intra-EU relocation issues:

    PS2. Any ”fault” of the UK IMO in in opposing a deeper EU but I do not see any discrimination re other intra-EU citizens since the same problems seem to trouble re-patriating British citizens, not only non-UK EU citizens.

  2. Nickp,

    Even if the internal market is more of an aim than a reality, many of the practical difficulties encountered by people stem from stupid and discriminatory practices at firm level as opposed to legislation.

    Cf. Kosmopolito on Sainsbury's.


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