Thursday 18 December 2008

The UK's negative approach to free movement in the European Union - and the Commission criticising member states

In a draft proposal for the European Union Council conclusions on the assessment of the state of free movement in the European Union, the main concern of the United Kingdom delegation is: Crime.

The proposed wording by the UK delegation can be summarised by the last paragraph of the document:
"The Council asks the Commission to bring forward an interpretative statement, providing guidelines on the operation of Directive 2004/38/EC and any appropriate proposals to combat abuse, misuse or crime. These guidelines would reflect the Council’s Conclusions and support Member States’ efforts to safeguard their fundamental interests and prevent abuses of free movement.
If this is the main isue with regard to free movement, then I feel sorry for the UK.

I would rather stick to the remarks made in an ALDE press release, stating that "Europe [is] still far off genuine guarantee for free movement of its citizens", related to an EU Commission report (see also an article by EUobserver) on the state of the implementation of the free movement directive. This report tells that most member states have failed to fully implement the directive, which makes the goal of free movement within the EU still more a vision than a reality.

It is nice that the United Kingdom cares for the "special needs" of criminal minority, but maybe it should work harder on the free movement of the majority of citizens - an appeal that actually all member states should take into due account.


Ralf Grahn said...


This is the same issue we discussed with reference to the Statewatch analysis by Professor Steve Peers.

The proposed conclusions seem to aim at morphing the Commission into even less than President Sarkozy indicated: not 'the guardian of the treaties', but the guardian of the treaties as interpreted and (not) implemented by the member states.

Ironically, the United Kingdom has continuously obstructed against and opted out of more effective joint action to combat serious crime.

By the way, the Citizenship Directive 2004/38 already has safeguards in place against severe problems: grounds of public policy, public security and public health.

It was interesting to see that not even one member state has managed to transpose the existing Directive correctly.