22nd Oct 2018

Moving within the EU to get easier

It will be easier for citizens to set up home in other EU countries after the Competitiveness council reached a political agreement on a Directive to ease restrictions on residency rights.

For the first time, EU citizens and their family members will have the right of permanent residence if they have lived in any member state for five years or more. This will include students studying abroad on long courses.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The red tape surrounding residence is also to be cut. Citizens will no longer have to obtain a residence card. They will instead be entered automatically into the population register of the new country.

The main controversy during the discussions surrounded the issue of gay and unmarried couples and whether or not these should be defined as "family members".

The council decided that the national law would apply and that if an individual member state recognises a same-sex or unmarried partner as a "family member", then he or she has an automatic right of entry in that country.

Conversely, if this is not the case, there shall be no automatic right of entry.

New expulsion rules

The Directive also makes it harder for member states to expel a citizen who has resided in the country for ten years or more. The text states that expulsion can only be decided on grounds of public security.

Presenting the agreement as "a very important step for the whole union", Rocco Buttiglione, Italian minister for European Affairs and current President of the Competitiveness council, drew special attention to this new protection against expulsion.

He said he was speaking as an Italian, rather than as a President when he welcomed this move and added, "you have no idea, no idea, what it means to be sent away for juvenile offences".

"It’s good to have more than one home", concluded Mr Buttiglione.

\"Hot news\" for the Commission

Jonathan Faull, speaking on behalf of Justice and Home Affairs Commissioner Antonio Vitorino, said that the Commission was "delighted" with the outcome of negotiations, which would "make a real difference to the lives of the citizens of the union".

Responding to criticism that the Directive amounted to little concrete action – "hot air" as one journalist put it – the ex=head of the Commission's press service replied, "this is not 'hot air', but 'hot news'".

Economic impact, too

Aside from the impact on citizens, the EU hopes the Directive will have an economic impact.

Economic unions such as the eurozone need a high level of labour mobility, so that citizens can move to where there is a greater chance of employment.

This works well in the US, but is harder to achieve in the EU, primarily due to differences in language and culture between member states.

The EU hopes that by making it easier to live and work in other EU countries, labour mobility will increase and hence the wider economy will also grow.

The Directive will be adopted at a forthcoming council meeting.

EU leaders worried about Italy's budget

Some EU leaders warned that Italy's plan to boost its budget spending despite the second largest debt in the eurozone, could hamper efforts to reform the single currency's framework.

EU warns Italian populists on Greek-type crisis

The EU commission president urged Rome to rethink its budget plans to avoid a Greek-style euro crisis. Meanwhile, Italy's finance minister tried to calm his colleagues in Luxembourg.

Airbnb agrees to clarify pricing for EU

The justice commissioner says the accommodation-rental website will better inform users about prices, and about the legal status of their 'hosts'. Facebook, however, could face sanctions if it doesn't comply with EU rules.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  8. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  9. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  11. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  12. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All

Latest News

  1. Lone Merkel announces Saudi arms ban
  2. Dodgy regime lobbying is below the EU's radar
  3. Bannon's The Movement to launch with January summit
  4. What Italy's budget row is actually about
  5. EU preparing 'concentration camps' for migrants in Africa
  6. Poland to respect EU injunction on judicial purge
  7. EU votes on Facebook and plastic This WEEK
  8. Top EU banks guilty of multi-billion tax fraud

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us