The EU has an interest and/or influence in many different areas, from Human Rights to Transport and Trade.
Useful links describing their activities in these areas are provided by the EU.
If you want to know what the EU is doing in these areas use the following links as a starting point.
Detail on policies on various subjects are available at
Also check information on the work of the EU Commission in their Departments (Directorates-General) and services provided on the EU web-site at
The UK has negotiated a number of exceptions (called opt-outs) from parts of EU legislation since it joined the EEC in the 1970’s.
Where the UK has negotiated such exceptions, the UK is not bound by EU rules in these areas, or has other special arrangements.
Economic and Monetary Union (EMU)
The UK has special status within the Economic and Monetary Union and retains control over its own economic and monetary policy:
The UK’s voting rights in the European Council are suspended for issues relating to eurozone matters.
EU Budget rebate
The UK benefits from a reduction in the amount it pays into the EU budget;
The UK is not a member of the Schengen border-free area, retaining control overs its own borders. (Protocol 19)
As a consequence, it is necessary to have your passport checked when entering the UK and possibly when entering other EU countries.
Justice and Home Affairs
The UK can choose whether or not to participate in new EU measures in the Justice and Home Affairs field. This means that the UK does not automatically take part in measures but can opt in to those that it considers to be in the national interest. (Protocol 21)
Charter of Fundamental Human Rights
The UK obtained a clarifying protocol, Protocol 30, which clarifies that the Charter does not extend the ability of the European Court of Justice to find UK law inconsistent with the Charter.
This exemption was obtained because of fears the Charter would infringe on UK labour law.
Free movement of workers is a fundamental principle of the Treaty enshrined in Article 45 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and developed by EU secondary legislation and the Case law of the Court of Justice.
EU citizens are entitled to:
EU nationals may also have certain types of health & social security coverage transferred to the country in which they go to seek work.
Free movement of workers also applies, in general terms, to the countries in the European Economic Area: Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.
People working in some occupations may also be able to have their professional qualifications recognised abroad.
EU social security coordination provides rules to protect the rights of people moving within the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
Who can benefit from this freedom?
Any person who holds the nationality of an EU country is automatically also an EU citizen.
EU citizenship is additional to and does not replace national citizenship. It is for each EU country to lay down the conditions for the acquisition and loss of nationality of that country.
Citizenship of the Union is conferred directly on every EU citizen by the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU.
The Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union entails the right:
Citizens of the EU and their family members have the right to move and reside freely within the territory of the EU, subject to certain conditions.
This right is conferred directly on every EU citizen by Article 21 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
As specified in directive 2004/38, the following rules apply: