Today, ECAS and the EU Rights Clinic are launching the second of Seven Strategies to improve the free movement of persons as part of the Right to Move campaign.
The second strategy calls on the European Commission to be given enhanced powers of investigation to enforce the EU rules on the free movement of persons.
Presently, the Commission’s powers to enforce the free movement rules are limited to launching formal infringement proceedings against Member States. These proceedings are cumbersome and can take several years to result in court action. The European Commission also retains a discretion as to which complaints to pursue as it is under no obligation to launch infringement actions.
Several recent cases – namely, the expulsion of Roma from France, the short-lived reintroduction of border controls in Denmark and delays at the Gibraltar/Spain border – have shown that the Commission’s powers of investigation are limited. The Commission currently lacks the power to undertake unannounced inspections to investigate suspected infringements of the free movement rules. It cannot interview citizens or compel officials to provide testimony or to take other forms of evidence. These are serious limitations on the Commission’s powers to investigate breaches of the EU’s free movement rules.
Given that the free movement of persons is one of the cornerstones of the Single Market, the Commission needs to have stronger powers to investigate infringements. There is no justifiable reason why the free movement rules should remain the poorer cousin of the EU rules relating to the Schengen area or even the competition or air transport rules for that matter.
Citizens deserve no less than a Commission equipped with a modern arsenal of measures that enables it to fulfill its mandate as “Guardian of the Treaties” to preserve and enforce the free movement rules in an effective manner.
* For more information, please contact: Elisa Bruno, EU Policies and Outreach Manager – Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: +32 2 548 98 25