Sunday

20th Jan 2019

Brits top list of nationals asking advice from EU lawyers

  • People from the UK asked EU lawyers for more legal advice than any other EU national, due in part to Brexit. (Photo: Valentina Pop)

Lawyers in the European Citizen Action Service (ECAS) say that UK citizens made more use of their free legal service than any other EU nationality in 2016.

A report out on Wednesday (12 April), published by ECAS, an NGO, found that British citizens made up the bulk of the demands, followed by Germans, and then by the French. ECAS provides advice from 60 legal experts.

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

Out of around 20,500 legal queries raised, approximately 18 percent were filed by people from the UK.

"These inquiries provide information about the problems faced by citizens who seek to exercise their right to free movement," noted the report.

Britain tops the list partly due to people's concerns about leaving the European Union, following the referendum last June.

Rights typically enjoyed by EU nationals will no longer apply to the UK once the country leave the bloc of 28 member states.

EU rights denied

But such rights are not consistently applied, and in some cases even denied across most EU states regardless of citizenship.

The biggest issues from all the queries received last year centred mostly around social security, entry procedures, and residency rights.

The lack of information and cooperation among EU member states on many of these issues appears to have led to confusion and frustration among EU citizens.

"Citizens do not know where to pay social contributions when they work in two countries, when they live in one country and work in another, or when they retire in another country," notes the report.

In some cases, EU member states flat out refuse to help nationals from other EU countries despite the legal obligation to do so.

The report cites an example of where a self-employed Belgian citizen started working in France but then fell ill shortly afterwards.

The French authorities refused to reimburse his health expenses, even though the Belgian national was no longer under the Belgian system. The French were found to be at fault.

Other issues such as visa exemptions and pension rights for those who have worked in a number of EU states also figure among the most frequently-asked questions.

The report also notes the case of a Spanish citizen who had worked for 25 years in Sweden and another 10 years in Spain. The Spaniard had moved to Sweden to retire. Then, last April, Swedish authorities asked their counterparts in Spain to send over the 10 years worth of pension allowance.

"So far, almost one year has passed and no response has been received from Spain. The citizen still has not received any payments," notes the report.

Other cases found that Germany had withheld family benefit claims submitted by non-German EU citizens.

The issue was most pronounced amongst people who work in one EU country, but whose families live in another.

MEPs endorse EP red lines on Brexit

Juncker said the EU is looking for success with the UK during talks, as the European Parliament outlines its position on citizens, borders, and the bill that will have to be settled before London can move on to future discussions.

EU citizens to be checked at Schengen borders

EU justice and interior ministers meeting Friday will ask the commission to change the Schengen area rules and will push for better use of technologies to control external and internal borders.

Germany led way on EU rights protection

Germany led the way on protection of human rights this year, but Hungary, Italy, and Poland "undermined the EU's moral standing" on the world stage, a leading NGO said.

News in Brief

  1. EU trade commissioner asks for green light for US talks
  2. Slovakia's commissioner takes unpaid leave to run for presidency
  3. Minority elects Lofven as prime minister of Sweden
  4. Putin opposes EU prospects of Serbia and Kosovo
  5. Tsipras launches campaign to ratify Macedonia deal
  6. US-EU meeting in doubt after Trump cancels plane
  7. Germany and China to sign pact on finance cooperation
  8. Labour divided on second Brexit vote plan

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Latest News

  1. Aachen treaty and Brexit endgame This WEEK
  2. Germany led way on EU rights protection
  3. How to troll the European Parliament elections
  4. MEPs in Strasbourg: everywhere but the plenary
  5. Brexit delay 'reasonable', as May tries cross-party talks
  6. MEPs allow Draghi's membership of secretive bank group
  7. EU parliament backs Morocco deal despite row
  8. Barnier open to 'future relations' talks if UK red lines shift

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us