|Author (Person)||Shelley, John|
|Series Title||European Voice|
|Series Details||Vol.7, No.20, 17.5.01, p4|
JUSTICE chief António Vitorino is to propose new rules designed to slice through the bureaucracy which prevents many EU citizens from exercising the free movement rights they have been promised since the Maastricht Treaty.
Vitorino will next week unveil a directive designed to harmonise the procedure for granting residence permits to citizens who move from one Union country to another.
Commission officials say that for too long Byzantine rules have prevented or discouraged people from exercising their right to live anywhere in the EU.
The complexity of the rules for getting residence status varies greatly between member states, but Vitorino's proposals would force all to introduce the same straightforward procedures.
"This will not be adding anything to the principle of free movement. It doesn't create any new rights whatsoever, but it will eliminate a series of bureaucratic obstacles that have been used to hamper the rights that people already have," said Vitorino's spokesman, Leonello Gabrici. "The truth is, for citizens who move around between countries, this is long overdue."
The directive is expected to outline two procedures - one for the employed and one for the unemployed - and specify the documents they must produce.
Citizens working in their host country will simply have to sign a declaration saying that they have a job. They will not automatically be asked to produce proof, although local authorities will be allowed to check their claims.
Unemployed people who want to get a residence card will have to promise that they have enough money to support themselves during their stay and that they are covered by health insurance.
The directive is also designed to simplify the procedure by which internal EU migrants can be joined by their families - for example, the rules for the recognition of spouses as residents.
"All you will have to do is say that he or she is here and that he or she is your husband or wife," said Gabrici.
Vitorino will also recommend that after four years of living in any one member state an EU citizen should be entitled to a permanent residence permit.
The proposals are being presented as an example of the 'softer side' of Vitorino's immigration and anti-crime brief. Member states and the European Commission have vowed to create "a common area of freedom, security and justice", but both civil liberties groups and MEPs have criticised the project for focussing on security at the expense of freedom. Gabrici says this new proposal is evidence to the contrary.
"Justice and home affairs is not all about repression and criminals," he said. "It's also about improving the day-to-day life of citizens."
Justice chief, António Vitorino, is to propose new rules designed to slice through the bureaucracy which prevents many EU citizens from exercising the free movement rights they have been promised since the Maastricht Treaty.
|Subject Categories||Internal Markets|