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Living and working in the Single Market

The principle of free movement of people dates back to the creation of the European Community. This principle was initially introduced to open Europe’s labour markets to migrant workers and their families. Over the years, this right was extended to cover all categories of citizens. Today, with the lifting of most internal border controls, we can move as freely around Europe as we can within a Member State. If we so choose, we can decide to study, work, or retire in another EU country. These freedoms embody the distinct advantages conferred by European citizenship.

If the right to cross-border mobility has become a reality, we must now remove the uncertainties that could hinder the exercise of this freedom. On the one hand, we must make sure that this right can be enjoyed in conditions of security and justice accessible to all, so as to prevent criminals from taking advantage of a European space without frontiers. On the other hand, we must remove the remaining legal and practical obstacles that deter people from benefiting from the freedom of movement and right to reside in another Member State. The European policy on the mutual recognition of professional qualifications is an example of action undertaken by the Commission in this respect.

Most European policies regarding the free movement of people are in the sphere of justice and home affairs. Specific policies on the free movement of workers relate to the area of employment and social affairs. You can find detailed information on the recognition of professional qualifications and on freedom of establishment on our site. For information on other policies, please consult the sites on Justice and Employment and Social Affairs.

For information of a practical nature on your freedom of movement and right of residence in another Member State, we invite you to visit the Your Europe site.