EU Commission opens infringement proceedings against the UNITED KINGDOM for failure to comply with EU rules on free movement

Today the European Commission launched infringement proceedings against the United Kingdom for failure to comply with EU law on the free movement of EU citizens and their family members.

UK national legislation limits the scope of beneficiaries of EU free movement law in the United Kingdom as well as the possibilities for EU citizens and their family members to appeal administrative decisions restricting free movement rights.

The Commission considers that the United Kingdomhas thereby breached the Free Movement Directive 2004/38/EC as well as EU rules on freedom of movement of EU citizens (Article 21 TFEU), freedom of movement of workers (Article 45 TFEU) and freedom of establishment (Article 49 TFEU).

EU law on free movement of persons continues to apply to and in the United Kingdomas if it were still an EU Member State during the transition period. Furthermore, the rights of EU citizens resident in the UK after the end of the transition period, as set out in the Withdrawal Agreement, are built on the rights that they currently enjoy in the United Kingdom under EU rules.

The United Kingdom’s shortcomings in the implementation and transposition of EU free movement law risks therefore also affecting the implementation of the citizens’ rights under the Withdrawal Agreement after the end of the transition period.

For these reasons, the Commission decided to send a letter of formal notice to the United Kingdom– the first step in the infringement process.

The United Kingdom now has four months to take the necessary measures to address the shortcomings identified by the Commission. Otherwise, the Commission may send a reasoned opinion to the UK authorities.

Christian Wigand

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