Remove obstacles to EU citizens' rights, say MEPs
EU Member States and the European Commission must to do more to enforce EU citizens' basic rights, says a resolution adopted by Parliament on Thursday. These rights include moving to and living in another Member State, standing for and voting in European Parliament and local elections, equal treatment and petitioning the European Parliament.
The text highlights persistent problems in areas such as free movement, the recognition of professional qualifications, access to information, non-discrimination, electoral rights and the free circulation of civil-status documents.
"In recent years, an increasing number of petitions have been registered in the European Parliament with regard to problems encountered by EU citizens in exercising their right to free movement. There is a large gap between the expectations of citizens who take free movement for granted and the legislation to be respected. To achieve free movement, Member States need to be pushed to do it", said rapporteur Adina-Ioana Vălean (ALDE, RO) in a debate preceding the vote.
Free movement for Romanian and Bulgarian workers, too
MEPs call on Member States to remove existing legal and practical barriers to the free movement of citizens and not to introduce unjustified administrative procedures. They also urge the Commission to assess free movement policies within the EU. 7 A voluntary European professional card could serve as a tool for facilitating mobility among Europeans and provide a model for a "Europe of citizens", says the resolution.
In this context, Parliament calls on EU countries that continue to restrict the access of Romanian and Bulgarian nationals to their labour markets, to review their decisions as soon as possible, taking into account "the principle of equality, the prohibition of discrimination, the unjustified nature of those decisions and the principle of solidarity".
EU countries should abolish policies and annul laws that discriminate minorities, such as the Roma, on the grounds of race and ethnicity, says the text, adding that Member States and the EU need to take joint responsibility for promoting and facilitating the integration of Roma communities, giving them the same rights and obligations as other EU citizens.
MEPs also stress that mass expulsions breach the free movement directive, as well as contravening the European Union's basic values and principles.
People with disabilities
Almost 80 million people with disabilities in the EU still face obstacles when they exercise their right of free movement as EU citizens. Parliament calls on Member States to eliminate these barriers and propose to establish an Erasmus-type programme for people with disabilities.
MEPs inserted an amendment reiterating their call for Member States to implement fully the rights granted not only to different-sex spouses, but also to registered partners, members of the household of an EU citizen and partners who are in a duly attested stable relationship with an EU citizen, including members of same-sex couples, on the basis of the principles of mutual recognition, equality, non-discrimination, dignity and respect for private and family life.
MEPs recognise that there are a number of obstacles that prevent EU citizens from making full use of their electoral rights when residing in a country other than their own. Member States should improve the rules governing elections, says the text, stressing that more direct participation by citizens through European political parties is a decisive step towards achieving "more" Europe and a more authentic democracy.
Procedure: Non-legislative resolution