Main problem areas
Cases handled by assistance services such as YEA and SOLVIT, as well as those handled through the formal infringement proceedings, demonstrate that problems still exist when it comes to making the Internal Market a reality.
In October 2011, the Commission published a list of 20 main concerns relating to the single market, based on the practical experiences of citizens and businesses when trying to make use of their single market rights. This report was based on an analysis of queries and complaints handled by the Commission (through CHAP and formal infringement proceedings) and assistance services such as SOLVIT, Your Europe Advice, the European Consumer Centres, the European Employment Service and the Enterprise Europe Network.
The 20 main concerns report indicated that the single market still suffers from three inter-related gaps:
- an information gap – people often do not sufficiently know or understand their rights and do not know where to look for information or help;
- an implementation gap – EU rules are not correctly transposed or applied in practice;
- a legislative gap – in some areas EU law does not live up to the expectations of citizens.
This section presents an overview of the main problem areas detected through YEA and SOLVIT. The overview confirms the persistence of the three gaps mentioned above, and points at concerns that need to be addressed:
Citizens find it difficult to locate reliable information on social security issues. Furthermore, there seems to be a lack of communication and coordination between local authorities. Especially problematic areas are:
- pension rights;
- health insurance;
- parental benefits;
- unemployment benefits.
Residence rights and entry
Misunderstanding or misapplication of EU law can be observed in the following areas:
- excessive formalities;
- incompatibility of residence rules with family reunification rules;
- rights of third country family members.
The most important issues concern the registration of cars and consecutive payment of taxes:
- private cars, company cars, cars of cross-border workers and students;
- excessive registration tax when relocating;
- registration of right wheel vehicles;
- road taxes.
Recognition of professional qualifications
The biggest number of problems can be found in the following areas:
- unjustified refusal to recognise qualifications;
- compensatory measures;
- disregard of deadlines;
- lack of information.
As some of the problems are more important in some countries than in others, the Commission asked the experts of the Your Europe Advice (YEA) service in 2012 to give an overview of the main problems reported by citizens to YEA with regard to the different Member States.
Based on their feedback and on the cases handled by SOLVIT and by the Commission, the most important problem areas in the various countries are listed below.
Please note that where problems reported in this section are likely to result from an infringement of EU law, the Commission is undertaking action or is examining the situation.
Third country nationals who are family members of EU citizens complain about facing delays as well as the requirement to provide extra documentation when trying to obtain a visa.
EU citizens living and working in Austria complain about the lack of communication and cooperation between national authorities in Austria and in other Member States, especially in the context of family benefits.
Third country nationals who are family members of EU citizens complain about the lack of information, delays and the requirement to provide extra documents when trying to obtain a visa.
Numerous complaints have been reported concerning direct taxation.
EU citizens complain about Belgian authorities not accepting certificates of conformity when trying to import a vehicle from another Member State.
Bulgarian citizens complain that Bulgarian authorities refuse to take into account their social security record and income in another Member State when calculating their unemployment benefits in Bulgaria.
EU citizens who are not residing in Croatia complain that only citizens with a Croatian identity card can buy a fishing permit card in Croatia.
Third country nationals who are family members of EU citizens report serious delays in obtaining residence cards.
Citizens and family members of EU citizens often report that they are asked for extra documentation, such as proof of accommodation, when trying to obtain a visa for family members who are third country nationals.
Problems are reported concerning a lack of communication and cooperation between national authorities, especially in the context of healthcare.
Non-Danish students complain about not having access to reduced transport fares in Denmark.
EU citizens complain about the lack of understandable information on social security rights.
Problems are being reported stating that Finnish social security agencies often deny EU citizen's their right of affiliation when determining the applicable legislation in social security issues.
Authorities are said to ask for extra documentation when a family member who is a third country national applies for a visa. Problems are also reported where a long term visa or a reunification visa instead of a short term visa is applied for.
Furthermore, third country nationals who are family members of an EU citizen often complain that the accelerated visa procedure is not applied even though they fulfil the conditions.
Problems also reported regarding the entry of goods into France.
EU citizens complain about unfair denials of residence cards for family members where the EU citizen is in a precarious situation.
EU citizens complain about the French authorities asking for extra documentation, such as translations or birth certificates when registering in France.
Many EU citizens complain about issues concerning tax law.
Difficulties are reported with regard to exchanging a driving licence from another Member State for a French one if the EU citizen has not been residing in France for more than 186 days.
Many complaints were received by EU citizens about excessive formalities when applying for a residence card.
EU citizens often complain that their European Health Insurance Card is not accepted in Germany and that the aggregation for old-age pensions are not respected by German authorities.
Students from other Member States complain that they are obliged to register their cars in Germany even though they are not required to do so under EU law.
Numerous problems also arise with matters of water protection, waste management, taxation, health and consumers and air transport.
Third country-national family members of EU citizens often have to provide extra documentation when applying for a visa.
EU citizens complain that Greek authorities are misapplying EU law with regard to the applicable legislation and the aggregation rules in social security cases.
Problems are frequently reported regarding the application of the special rules on the use of company cars.
Problems also arise with matters of water protection, waste management, taxation, health and consumers and air transport.
EU citizens complain that official foreign documents are not always accepted by Hungarian authorities.
The applications of third country nationals who are family members for a visa are not always free of charge.
Problems are reported concerning the determination of the applicable legislation in social security issues for Hungarian citizens working and residing in another Member State whilst keeping their registered address in Hungary.
EU citizens report about delays regarding their application for residence cards.
Difficulties are reported by some citizens whose application for a permanent residence card was refused without any grounds.
Third country nationals who are family members often complain about extra fees, delays or additional requirements imposed on them when trying to obtain a visa.
Complaints have also arrived in the areas of public procurement, taxation, justice and waste management.
Citizens complain about the refusal of the registration of right-hand driven cars.
There seems to be a lack of awareness of Lithuanian authorities concerning the right of residence for a "de facto" partner.
Complaints were received about a lack of communication and cooperation between national authorities for family benefits.
Problems were reported concerning unequal tax treatment.
Complaints were received with regard to long delays when applying for or renewing a permanent residence card.
Third country nationals who are family members of EU citizens complain that visas are neither delivered free of charge nor under an accelerated procedure.
Problems are reported with regard to a lack of communication and cooperation between national authorities in the Netherlands and other Member States.
Students complain that different tuition fees are applied to foreign students.
Complaints in the area of tax law have been registered.
Problems are reported regarding the recognition of professional qualifications.
Problems are reported concerning the lack of communication and cooperation between national authorities in Poland and other Member States.
EU citizens complain about receiving misinformation related to social security benefits and portable documents.
EU citizens have also complained about environmental and health and consumer issues.
Problems are reported regarding the lack of communication and cooperation between national authorities in Portugal and other Member States especially in the context of healthcare and unemployment benefits.
EU citizens complain that portable documents, such as the S1 form are not delivered.
Complaints are received that Portuguese authorities refuse to deregister a car in Portugal.
Complaints are received regarding the taxation of vehicles for citizens residing in another Member State.
EU citizens frequently complain that Romanian authorities do not issue portable documents, such as the S1 form as well as the EHIC.
Complaints are received revealing that the principle of aggregation of periods spent in different Member States was not put into practice.
Problems are reported concerning the absence of communication and cooperation between national authorities in Romania and other Member States especially in the context of healthcare and family benefits.
Long delays or refusals in the delivery of the certificate of conformity for the recognition of a professional qualification are reported.
Complaints about absence of communication and cooperation between national authorities (old-age pensions) were received.
It was reported that the delivery of a portable document (S 1) was refused.
Complaints were received about lack of information at the administration regarding long-term residents.
Problems were reported regarding waste management.
Third country nationals who are family members complain about delays and charges as well as about additional requirements being imposed on them when applying for a visa.
Citizens frequently face delays and administrative burdens when trying to obtain a residence card in Spain.
Unemployed Spanish citizens or family members of unemployed workers who receive unemployment benefits as well as workers with temporary jobs are systematically refused the EHIC.
Problems are reported concerning the lack of communication and cooperation between national authorities, especially in the context of healthcare.
Complaints are received that for driving licences the principle of mutual recognition is not always applied.
Judicial rights and other fundamental rights
Third country nationals who are family members of EU citizens complain about excessive administrative requirements and ignorance of marriage certificates with an apostille.
Taxation, transport and water protection have also been issues of concern for EU citizens.
EU citizens report as a problem the refusal of a "personal number" if they cannot show the S1 form. No other portable form is accepted nor is proof of private insurance. Without a personal number, a citizen cannot undertake important activities like opening a bank account, renting property, attending Swedish courses, filing with the unemployment agency, entering an agreement with an employer, subscribing to a fixed telephone or mobile phone or television.
EU citizens complain about excessive delays for issuing a residence card.
Problems are reported concerning the obligation to register a vehicle with temporary number plates.
For third country nationals who are family members of EU citizens it is often not clear what type of visa they need.
They often face excessive delays and charges as well as additional requirements when trying to obtain a visa.
EU citizens complain about excessive delays and formalities in processing residence cards for their family members from third countries.
Problems are reported concerning the acquisition of the right to permanent residence in the UK.
Problems are reported stating that the authorities often retain key personal documents including passports or original documents for long periods (sometimes over six months). This creates additional problems for both, the third country national and the EU spouse, to lead a normal life, to proof their right to reside in the UK and to work and to travel to the home country of the EU citizen.
Students and inactive EU citizens and their spouses complain that they are required to have Comprehensive Sickness Insurance (CSI). This is a breach of Directive 2004/38 and Regulation 883/04 and means that social security benefit is refused on the grounds that the inactive EU citizen (or family member) does not have the right to reside, given that he/she does not have CSI.
Students complain about discriminatory measures on grounds of nationality and unequal treatment with regard to tuition fees. Classifying students according to their prior residence and charging higher fees for international students is discriminatory.
Complaints have been registered in the areas of taxation and water protection.