Freedom of movement might be among the EU's most cherished achievements, but member states still fail to always fully respect EU citizens' rights concerning this. A quarter of all petitions received by the Parliament in 2010 is about problems with free movement. To remedy them, Romanian Liberal MEP Adina-Ioana Vălean has proposed several measures in a report that was adopted by the European Parliament.
EU citizens' freedom of movement includes the right to move and reside freely within the EU; the right to vote for and stand as a candidate in municipal and European Parliament elections; the right to be protected by the diplomatic authorities of any other EU country and the right to submit a petition to the EP and complain to the EU's Ombudsman.
It also includes the right to contact and receive a response from any EU institution in one of the EU's official languages; the right to access documents of the EU institutions under certain conditions and the right of equal access to the EU civil service. It also prohibits discrimination on the basis of nationality
Although these rights have been enshrined in European legislation, people still regularly encounter difficulties. For example, there are reports of problems with family law, such as complicated and expensive cross-border divorce procedures; Roma people still suffering from discrimination and people being discriminated because of their nationality (such as foreign language teachers in Italy).
Other issues that have been reported include the UK refusing to grant social benefits although these are normally exportable from one member state to another; Dutch nationals living abroad experiencing difficulties in having their travel documents renewed and Poland not recognising the partnership of same-sex couples.
The report that was adopted on 29 March 2012 calls on member states to remove existing legal and practical barriers to the free movement of citizens and to not introduce unjustified administrative procedures. It also urges the Commission to assess free movement policies within the EU. In addition a voluntary European professional card could serve as a tool for facilitating mobility among Europeans and provide a model for a Europe of citizens.
How to report difficulties
Online networks such as Solvite and Your Europe (see links on the right) can help to resolve the problem informally. Another option is to present a petition to the European Parliament. The EP's petitions committee will then try to help by directly contacting regional or national authorities in the member states and finding quick, non-judicial remedies.