The right of the freedom of movement and residence of persons in the EU, established by the Treaty of Maastricht in 1992, is one of the most relevant and outstanding achievements of the EU, so we tend to think that it is an absolute right and that any citizen of any of the 26 Schengen members can move, reside, study or work freely in another EU country. However, it is not an easy task, and each EU member state has its own rules that hinder the full enjoyment of this right.
The gradual phasing-out of internal borders under the Schengen agreements was followed by adopting Directive 2004/38/EC on the right of EU citizens and their family members to move and reside freely within the EU.
Notwithstanding the importance of this right, several obstacles persist. It would be best if you considered that your rights may change and that you will face a lot of endless administrative formalities.
The right to free movement within the EU
It is a superior right recognized in Article 45 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, Article 3(2) of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and Article 21 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).
The right of free movement of persons is regulated in the Directive 2004/38/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004 on the right of citizens of the Union and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States.
However, this is a fundamental right that unfortunately still linked to a series of obligations:
Firstly, depending on the rule of the three months, the situation varies if you are staying more or less than three months:
– For stays of under three months: you need to possess a valid identity document or a passport, and sometimes the host Member State may require you to register your presence in the country.
– For stays of over three months: if you are not working, you must have sufficient resources and sickness insurance. As an EU citizen, you do not need residence permits, although the Member States may require you to register with the authorities.
On occasions, some of you, after this stay, decide to keep living in that host country, and for that, you only need an uninterrupted legal residence of five years to acquire a permanent home.
Still, some of you can be restricted from entering or staying in another Member State for public health, public security, or public policy reasons. Even so, certain conditions must be met to prohibit this right. One of the most outstanding examples we have is Case 41/74 of Ivonne Van Duyn v Home Office (1974) where Yvonne Van Duyn, of Dutch nationality, brought an action against the Home Office for denied her enter the United Kingdom to take up employment as a secretary with the “Church of Scientology” by considering that the activities are socially harmful.
Citizens affected by the Brexit.
From 1 January 2021, many EU citizens were affected by Brexit. The rules for EU citizens living in or moving to the United Kingdom or UK national living or moving to an EU country changed utterly.
Now, as a UK citizen, you can visit the EU for up to 90 days within any 180 days without needing a visa.
Nevertheless, EU citizens in the UK or UK citizens in an EU living there before January 2021 are allowed to continue living and working. Still, the ones who were not living there before that date were not allowed.
Different rules apply between Ireland, and the U.K. British citizens continue to have the right to live and work in Ireland as part of the Common Travel Area.
Travel to live, work, study, or look for a job
Staying in another EU country for three months without registering is possible, but you need to report your presence. The only requirement is to hold a valid national identity card or passport. If you are staying longer than three months, then you should register your residence.
Do you want to live and work in another EU country?
You need to know that every EU citizen has the right to live in any EU country where they can work as an employee or self-employed person and be treated in identical conditions as the national citizens of that specific country.
At times, some EU countries require you to report your presence to the competent authorities within a reasonable time after arrival. For example, in The Netherlands, you need to register your company within five days after arriving. This period is usually different depending on the member state in question.
Generally, having a permanent resident can be so valuable if you have stayed in that country for a long time and are planning to still do in the future. To get permanent residence, you need to live in another EU country for a continuous period of 5 years.
How about staying to study in another EU country?
Many students want to live the experience of studying abroad but, even if it looks like something easy to do, it is so challenging. They should not only be enrolled in an approved educational establishment but also have health insurance. They also need to prove that they have sufficient income to live without requiring support from the government, for example, the allowance.
Moreover, you should know that there is no automatic EU-wide recognition of academic diplomas. Therefore, you may need to go through a national procedure to get your academic degree or certificate recognized in another EU country.
Are you tired from looking for a job in your own country and want to start looking for new opportunities within the EU?
For some recently graduated students, find a job can be a very exhausting task. The solution sometimes is to travel to another EU country, where they afford more opportunities and better work conditions.
You can take this step since you have the right to go and look for work in another EU country, and even you don´t need to register as a resident for the first six months. However, rules change from a country to another.
Sometimes it is hard to find a suitable job in the first six months, but you don´t need to worry. If you have not found a job during the first six months of your stay, the national authorities can assess your right to stay longer. You only need to keep in mind that, in most cases, you need to demonstrate that you were actively looking for one and that you have the potential to be hired in the field of your specialization.
However, it is convenient to specify that these rights, obligations and formalities may vary from one state to another. Each state has the right to establish its own specific rules, of course, respecting the basic principles. So, be sure to read and be well informed about the specialities of the country you want to move to. It is better to be aware of all the obstacles and the necessary administrative procedures that you may face to avoid some unwanted surprises.
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