Freedom of movement within the EU generally refers to the ability for nationals of EU-member countries (EU nationals)*, and nationals of certain non-EU member countries (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland), to enter another EU-member country virtually free of internal border control.  In addition, many EU-member countries grant EU nationals long-term residence status without requiring formal application for a work permit. 

While the free movement of persons is a fundamental right guaranteed to EU nationals by certain treaties,  the 27-member EU countries have until January 1, 2014 to grant “full” freedom of movement privileges to nationals of other EU countries.  Recently, crushing national financial difficulties for some member countries have exacerbated an already high domestic unemployment rate.  Government austerity measures have also reduced government programs and the numbers of government and private workers. 

Renewed calls of nationalism are being heard from various EU countries to protect both domestic economy and labor market at the expense of preserving the region’s common currency (the “euro”) and full freedom of movement privileges.   Certain EU-member countries, such as Denmark, France and Italy are increasing calls to reinstate border control on all foreign nationals, inclusive of EU nationals.  In addition, due to high unemployment and national economic concerns, Spain has recently joined 10 other EU countries requiring Romanian nationals to obtain restricted work permits for the foreseeable future.

Clients are advised that increasing dissent amongst EU countries may result in renewed calls to limit intra-EU migration.  While it is not expected that this will become an EU-wide phenomenon, financially stressed EU-member countries (e.g., Italy, Greece and Spain) could announce measures to limit in-flow of EU-member nationals should domestic unemployment rise further and/or government austerity programs force limitation in issuing EU nationals work permit-free residence.  Clients are advised to confirm with their Pro-Link GLOBAL immigration specialist the current immigration requirements for EU nationals wishing to work/reside in another EU-member country.

*Nationals of Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom