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EU Topics and Policies

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

http://ec.europa.eu/policies/

Also check information on the work of the EU Commission in their Departments (Directorates-General) and services provided on the EU web-site at

http://ec.europa.eu/about/ds_en.htm

UK opt-outs from EU legislation

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 is under no obligation to join the euro and will not join the euro;
  • the UK does not participate in the Banking Union, and therefore retains responsibility for the supervision of UK banks;
  • the UK cannot be penalised under EU rules, unlike other Member States who are part of the Economic and Monetary Union;

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;

Schengen Area

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.

References:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/jha-opt-in-and-schengen-opt-out-protocols

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opt-outs_in_the_European_Union#Economic_and_Monetary_Union_.E2.80.93_Denmark_and_the_United_Kingdom

Free Movement of Workers

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:

  • look for a job in another EU country
  • work there without needing a work permit
  • reside there for that purpose
  • stay there even after employment has finished
  • enjoy equal treatment with nationals in access to employment, working conditions and all other social and tax advantages

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?

  • Jobseekers, i.e. EU nationals who move to another EU country to look for a job, under certain conditions
  • EU nationals working in another EU country
  • EU nationals who return to their country of origin after having worked abroad.
  • Family members of the above.

References:

http://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?catId=457&langId=en

Rights as an EU citizen

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:

  • To non-discrimination on the basis of nationality when the Treaty applies
  • To move and reside freely within the EU
  • To vote for and stand as a candidate in European Parliament and municipal elections
  • To be protected by the diplomatic and consular authorities of any other EU country
  • To petition the European Parliament and complain to the European Ombudsman
  • To contact and receive a response from any EU institution in one of the EU’s official languages
  • To access European Parliament, European Commission and Council documents under certain conditions
The right to move and reside freely

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:

  • Article 6: EU citizens can reside on the territory of another EU country for up to three months without any conditions other than the requirement to hold a valid identity card or passport;
  • Article 7: To reside in another EU country for more than three months, EU citizens are required to meet certain conditions depending on their status (i.e. worker, student, etc.) and may also be required to meet certain administrative formalities;
  • Article 16: EU citizens can acquire the right to permanent residence in another EU country after legally residing there for a continuous period of five years;
  • Article 3: The family members of EU citizens have the right to accompany or join them in another EU country, subject to certain conditions.

References:

http://ec.europa.eu/justice/citizen/index_en.htm

A guide to your rights as an EU citizen – Freedom to move and live in Europe

http://ec.europa.eu/justice/index_en.htm

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