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09 May 2012

European Commission threatens the United Kingdom with infringement proceedings

The European Commission has issued a reasoned opinion to the United Kingdom to take steps to ensure the proper implementation of the Citizens Directive 2004/38 EC, which guarantees rights of free movement for EU citizens and their families. The opinion, issued on 26 April 2012, gives the United Kingdom two months to ensure that compliance is achieved. Failure to comply may result in the Commission starting legal action before the European Court of Justice.

The Commission has already launched a number of infringement proceedings against other EU Member States for failure to correctly implement the Directive into national law by the transposition deadline of April 2006. In January 2012, the Commission also issued reasoned opinions against the Czech Republic and Lithuania (IP/12/75).

The four main issues with the United Kingdom’s implementation of the Directive are set out in the reasoned opinion as follows:

  • Visas: The United Kingdom still requires visas from those who hold valid residence cards in one EU Member State and travel to the UK with the EU family member.

  • Rights of extended family members: “Extended” family members of EU citizens cannot obtain a residence card in the United Kingdom where they were lawfully residing in the UK before the arrival to the UK of the EU citizen on whom they are dependent.
  • Comprehensive sickness insurance: EU citizens residing in the UK can be required to have sufficient resources to support themselves and sickness insurance. Despite having a public healthcare system (NHS) which can be accessed by EU nationals resident in the UK, the UK does not consider such coverage as sufficient and denies rights of residence to EU nationals and their family members who do not take out private medical insurance.

  • Bulgarian and Romanian workers: The UK does not issue the correct residence documents to workers from Romania and Bulgaria during their first 12 months of residence.While the United Kingdom can still maintain a work permit scheme in place for citizens of these countries, where work is authorised, Bulgarians and Romanians have the same right to reside as other EU workers and should be issued the corresponding residence documents.


A full copy of the press release can be found here http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/12/417&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en

Nicolas Rollason, Kingsley Napley LLP, London