EU Free Movement Law in 10 Questions & Answers

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Series Details 02.11.16
Publication Date 02/11/2016
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This post primarily aims to clarify the scope of EU free movement rules with the view of addressing some of the most common (legal) misconceptions one may regularly encounter in the British media and elsewhere. The authors argue that the much of the criticism of free movement has targeted a ‘straw man’, with little regard to the actual regime.

In the UK, for instance, there seems to be a wide consensus across the political spectrum on the need to restrict ‘current EU freedom of movement rules’ yet ‘current’ EU rules are often misunderstood or misrepresented. To argue that the UK has simply ‘no control’ over immigration from the rest of the EU is inaccurate. Similarly, one may regret that some EU actors tend to paint freedom of movement as one which could not be subject to restrictions and one which would be inherently connected with rules on the free movement of goods, capital and services.

These aspects and many others are addressed in this blog via 10 questions & answers. The post ends with a brief outline of the main models and possible options for the UK to consider when it will have to agree the ‘framework for its future relationship with the Union’ to quote Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union (hereinafter: TEU).

(1) Does EU Law guarantee an absolute right to move and reside anywhere in the EU?
(2) Does EU Law prevent temporal and geographical exceptions?
(3) Has EU Law led to an uncontrolled migration regime within the EU
(4) Does EU Law prevent Member States from dealing with welfare tourism?
(5) Does EU Law prevent Member States to prevent abuse and fraud such as marriages of convenience?
(6) Does EU Law prevent Member States from removing criminals from their territories?
(7) Does EU Law prevent Member States from imposing a ‘brake’ on EU immigration?
(8) Does EU Law only guarantee a right of permanent residence after five years?
(9) Would EU Law or International Law protect ‘acquired’ free movement rights following a British exit from the EU?
(10) What are the main options available to the UK government?

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Related Links
ESO: In Focus: Brexit - The United Kingdom and the European Union
ESO: Background information: Why the UK can’t just pick and choose from the EU menu after Brexit

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