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Brussels, 2nd May 2006

Enhancement of free movement and residence rights for EU citizens: a new milestone in EU integration process

On 30 April 2006, the deadline expired for Member States to bring into force the transposition measures necessary to comply with Directive 2004/38/EC on the right of citizens of the Union and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States adopted on 29 April 2004 by the European Parliament and the Council. The basic concept of the Directive, based on a Commission proposal, is that Union citizens should be able to move between Member States on similar terms as nationals of a Member State moving around or changing their place of residence in their own country.

Vice-President Franco Frattini, Commissioner responsible for Freedom, Security & Justice stated “The entry into force of this Directive constitutes a milestone in the EU integration process by substantially enhancing the ability of EU citizens and their families to move and reside freely within the EU-a clear expression of European citizenship itself. This is also a perfect example of the Commission’s commitment to the better regulation policy- existing legislation has been brought together into one coherent, transparent legal instrument easily accessible to individual citizens and national administrations alike whilst avoiding unnecessary bureaucratic formalities”

The main innovations and achievements of the Directive with regard to existing law are the following:

  • It codifies a complex corpus of legislation (9 Directives and 1 Regulation) and the extensive case law of the ECJ and provides a single, simple legal instrument on the fundamental right of free movement and residence, which will give this right more transparency and will make it easier to apply,
  • It creates a single legal regime for free movement and residence within the context of citizenship of the Union for all categories of Union citizens while maintaining the acquired rights of workers.
  • It improves and facilitates the exercise of the right of residence in the following ways:
  • It extends family reunification rights of Union citizens to the registered partner under certain conditions.
  • It grants family members an autonomous right of residence in case of death of the Union citizen or the dissolution of marriage or registered partnership.
  • It reduces administrative formalities: Union citizens will no longer be obliged to obtain a residence card but they may still be required to register with the relevant authorities and prove that they comply with residence conditions which are either to exercise an economic activity as worker or self-employed person or to have sufficient resources and a comprehensive sickness insurance.
  • The main innovation of the Directive is the introduction of a right of permanent residence after five years of residence in the host Member State which will not longer be subject to any above condition and will ensure full equal treatment of Union citizens with nationals.
  • The Directive finally increases protection against expulsion of Union citizens and their family members who have acquired a right of permanent residence and limits the possibility of expulsion of Union citizens who have resided in a Member State for the previous ten years or who are minors to cases based on imperative grounds of public

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