The joint responsibility of Member States and the EU institutions to uphold EU citizens' rights to live and work in another EU country is underlined in a policy paper just adopted by the European Commission.
The Commission's paper outlines five concrete actions to help national and local authorities to:
- Fight marriages of convenience: the Commission will help national authorities implement EU rules which allow them to fight potential abuses of the right to free movement by preparing a Handbook on addressing marriages of convenience.
- Apply EU social security coordination rules: the Commission is working closely with the Member States to clarify the 'habitual residence test' used in the EU rules on social security coordination (Regulation 883/2004/EC) in a practical guide that will be produced by the end of 2013.
- Address social inclusion challenges: help Member States further use the European Social Fund to tackle social inclusion.
- Promote the exchange of best practices amongst local authorities.
- Ensure the application of EU free movement rules on the ground: the Commission will also set up by the end of 2014, in cooperation with Member States, an online training module to help staff in local authorities fully understand and apply free movement rights of EU citizens.
The Communication analyses the impact of mobile EU citizens on the welfare systems of host Member States. The factual evidence overwhelmingly suggests that most EU citizens moving to another Member State do so to work. They are more likely to be economically active than nationals and less likely to claim social benefits.
In fact, the percentage of mobile EU citizens who receive benefits is relatively low, compared to Member States' own nationals and non-EU nationals. In most Member States mobile EU citizens are net contributors to the host country's welfare system.
With over 14 million EU citizens resident in another Member State, free movement – or the ability to live, work and study anywhere in the Union – is the EU right most cherished by Europeans. EU workers have been benefitting from this right since the dawn of the European Union, with the principle enshrined in the first European Treaty of Rome in 1957.