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Free circulation of public documents

As more Europeans are on the move - around 12 million EU citizens today live in an EU country other than their own - people are confronted with bureaucratic obstacles.

Obstacles to free movement

Europeans who live outside their home countries often complain about the process of getting public documents officially recognised, for example:

  • waiting for an official stamp on a court ruling;
  • a property deed;
  • paying for a translation of a birth, marriage or death certificate.

In some EU countries, citizens have to pay a fee so that their documents, which have already been officially issued by one EU country, are recognised as authentic. Another problem is that some EU countries can require administrative documents that do not always exist in the citizen's home country.

These are all obstacles that block the right of free movement, guaranteed by the EU Treaties in everyday life.

Easing free circulation

The smooth circulation of public documents (such as diplomas, proof of nationality, property deeds) is essential for citizens who move to another EU country.

EU countries' registries and administrative systems vary considerably, resulting in heavy and costly formalities (translation, additional proof of authenticity of documents, etc.). These problems make it difficult for citizens to fully enjoy their rights within the EU.

According to a Eurobarometer surveypdf Choose translations of the previous link , 73% of EU citizens believe that measures should be taken to improve the circulation of public documents between EU countries.

The Commission is committed to removing obstacles by 2 actions:

  • the Green Paperpdf Choose translations of the previous link  called 'Less bureaucracy for citizens: promoting free movement of public documents and recognition of the effects of civil status records', which proposes several options on easing the free circulation of documents relevant to citizens;
  • a Public Consultation, which ended on 10 May 2011 and aims to take stakeholders' comments into account for future work.

The Commission presented on 24 April 2013 a proposal for a Regulation on promoting the free movement of citizens and businesses by simplifying the acceptance of certain public documents in the European Union and amending Regulation (EU) No 1024/2012.

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