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Member States should collate better statistics on free movement

Member States should collate better statistics on free movement

In April 2013, the Ministers of four EU Member States – the UK, Austria, Germany and the Netherlands – wrote to the Irish Presidency of the European Council on the matter of free movement of persons within the Union. The letter specifically concerned the issue of “benefits tourism”, namely the abuse of national welfare systems, and fraud, such as marriages of convenience. The measures proposed by the quartet include curtailing the right of newly arrived migrants to claim benefits and introducing bans on re-entry for those found to be abusing or defrauding the system. The letter offered no concrete evidence to back up the claims of systemic abuse and fraud that would justify the specific measures advocated. While the letter decried the systemic abuse of free movement through marriages of convenience, only one of its Member State authors, namely the UK, systematically collates statistics on suspected sham marriages. Aside from this sole exception, none of these countries collates any kind of reliable data on other forms of abuse of free movement rules. The Commission’s open challenge to the quartet to produce evidence of the extent and scale of benefits tourism has been met with silence. The UK’s attempt to generate such evidence through its Balance of Competences Review ended in ignominy amid allegations that the Government was withholding the final report because it was too “pro-European. While ad hoc studies have been published to show the impact that EU migration has had on welfare benefits in the EU as a whole and public finances in some Member States as well as at the local level, data needs to be...

Free Movement in the EU Conference – Media Invitation

Press Invitation How much do EU citizens living abroad contribute and how much do they receive from the host country?     A wide spectrum of political parties will discuss European Citizen Action Service (ECAS) Study on the Fiscal Impact of EU Migration in the UK, Germany, the Netherlands and Austria at the European Parliament on 12 November 2014. This study was launched in response to threats by certain member states to restrict the right to free movement of people in the EU. It identifies whether EU migrants are a burden to the social security systems of the four member states, based on available data. Assya Kavrakova, ECAS’ Director, stated, “The EU should call on the Member States to collect harmonized data on the impact of free movement in their respective countries if we are to have an evidence-based debate on this issue.”  You are welcome to come and join the debate at the European Parliament on 12 from 13.00 – 15.00, room ASP 5E1 to provide your input to the discussion. Media Invitation...
Civil society organisations should be empowered to help citizens overcome obstacles

Civil society organisations should be empowered to help citizens overcome obstacles

Today, ECAS and the EU Rights Clinic are launching the third of Seven Strategies to improve the free movement of persons as part of the Right to Move campaign. The third strategy calls on the civil society organisations to be empowered to help citizens overcome obstacles. Empowering civil society will assist in meeting the legal needs of EU citizens. Despite a significant majority of EU citizens being aware that they have a right to move within the EU, almost two-thirds of them feel they do not have a sufficient awareness of their EU rights. Less than a quarter of citizens feel sufficiently well informed about what to do if their EU rights are not respected and about a fifth of the problems were the result of citizens’ own lack of awareness of their rights. EU citizens who make use of their right to free movement continue to face significant obstacles in the exercise of their EU rights with more than 25% of citizens reporting that they encountered problems in moving within the EU. Empowering civil society groups to inform and assist mobile citizens will ensure that citizens can make effective use of their fundamental right of free movement and overcome obstacles that may come their way. Read the Third...

The muddy waters of self-sufficiency in Directive 2004/38 – A Citizen’s Story

A Citizen’s Story  In all the rhetoric surrounding free movement, it is easy to forget that the issue affects real people. Mr. L has kindly offered to share his story with us. He has been living in the UK for 9 years and is married to a non-EEA citizen. In those 9, neither Mr. L nor Mrs. L has claimed benefits. In addition, he has been denied a UK residence card, on the basis that he does not have private health insurance. I moved to Britain 9 years ago, soon after my home country joined the EU. I came in order to improve my English, explore new horizons and possibly start a new life in an exciting, multicultural land. I began working two days after my arrival, first as a manual labourer at a ladder factory, and later behind the bar at a club. There I met my future wife, who worked alongside me. She is originally from Kenya and when we met she had already been living in Britain for a few years as a student. She was about to finish her BA degree and she inspired me to also take up studying. We started working at a country hotel together, her as a receptionist and me as a night porter, and got married less than a year later; I commenced my studies soon afterwards. I continued working as a night porter during the first year of university. Managing both my work and my studies was very difficult, and so I really welcomed the opportunity to receive a student loan and a grant from the second year onwards....