Select Committee on European Scrutiny Thirty-Eighth Report






COM(01) 257





Draft Directive on the right of citizens of the Union and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States.


Draft Directive on the right of citizens of the Union and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States.

Legal base:

Articles 12,18(2), 40 ,44 and 52 EC; co-decision; unanimity


Deposited in Parliament:

(b) 26 July 2002


Home Office

Basis of consideration:

(b) EM of 2 September 2002

Previous Committee Report:

(a) HC 152-xii (2001-02), paragraph 7 (16 January 2002) and HC 152-xii (2001-02), paragraph 7 (16 January 2002)

To be discussed in Council:

No date set

Committee's assessment:

Politically important

Committee's decision:

(a) Cleared

(b) Not cleared; further information and new text awaited




    1. This proposal aims to consolidate existing legislation and case law as well as to extend the law in certain areas. We have considered it twice already: on the second occasion, in January, we recognised that negotiations still had a long way to go, and decided to keep the document under scrutiny. We asked to be kept informed of progress and supplied with any amended text.
    2. The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Home Office (Mr Bob Ainsworth) has now supplied us with a new text (document (b)) and an Explanatory Memorandum.
    3. Document (b) and the Government's view

    4. The Minister tells us that the Free Movement of Persons Working Group has produced this new text following regular meetings to discuss the draft Directive. It contains some technical, clarifying amendments with which the Government has no serious problems, although it will seek to improve some of the drafting.
    5. An Annex to the Explanatory Memorandum addresses specific Articles. This makes it clear that the new text has not resolved the Government's problems with the proposal. In particular:

    • Article 2

The Government is still seeking clarification about the intended effect of the extension of family members to include unmarried partners of an EEA national, if the legislation of the host Member State treats unmarried partners as equivalent to married partners. It is also still seeking to add a dependency requirement similar to the requirement in existing EC law (Article 10 of EEC Regulation 1612/68). The Minister tells us that a number of other delegations share the UK's concerns.

    • Articles 5 and 6

The Government is still seeking to ensure that these Articles do not prevent the UK operating its frontier controls (although new wording of Article 6 does now address the fact that the UK has not opted into the Common Visa List Regulation (EC 539/01)). It is also concerned that new wording may allow family members an indefinite time at ports of entry to obtain travel documents or visas.

    • Articles 8 and 18

The situation is unchanged: the Government is still seeking to amend these Articles so that it can require EU nationals to provide evidence that they are exercising their rights under this Directive, rather than merely provide a declaration, as currently drafted. It also has concerns about the proposed new registration system.


    • Articles 10 and 17

The UK's proposal that the time limit for the issuing of residence cards should be increased from three to six months (in line with current EC law) has been accepted, and is reflected in the new text of these Articles.

    • Articles 13 and 16

The Government is still unable to accept the provisions in these Articles which would allow a family member to remain in the UK following the family member's divorce from an EU national. If it cannot secure removal of the provisions, it will press for tighter definitions.

    • Article 21

Although Article 21.2 makes it clear that Member States are not obliged to award maintenance grants to EU citizens coming to a host Member State to study, it makes no mention of any other kind of assistance that might be available to them, or of student loans. The Government does not offer such loans to EU nationals not settled in the UK . It considers that its position is supported by existing EC jurisprudence, but would still like the Article to treat student loans in the same way as maintenance grants.

    • Article 26

The Government still cannot accept the provision in this Article which prevents the expulsion or removal on grounds of public policy or public security of EU nationals or family members who have been granted permanent residence under this Directive, or family members who are minors. The Minister tells us that most Member States share the UK's view.

    1. More generally, the Minister expresses his concern that a number of the provisions could have a significant effect on social security rights, and could lead to increased abuse of the immigration control system. He tells us that most Member States share these concerns and have indicated that they will be seeking amendments to the draft Directive. A new text is expected early next year, following the European Parliament's first reading of the measure, currently expected in December. It is likely to be substantially different from the current version.
    2. The Minister says that the proposal is expected to be discussed, but not adopted, during the Danish Presidency. It is envisaged that Member States should adopt and publish the provisions necessary to comply with the measure by 1 July 2003.
    3. Conclusion

    4. It is difficult to see that much has changed with regard to this proposal since we last considered it. Certainly, very few of the Government's concerns have been met.
    5. Therefore, although we clear document (a), we shall keep document (b) under scrutiny until we receive the new text which the Minister expects early in the new year. We ask for this to be deposited in good time before the measure is discussed in Council, especially if the expectation is for adoption by next July.
    6. We remind the Minister that we are still waiting for comment on our view that there is a difficult balance to be struck between the concept of EU citizenship and legitimate national interests. While we support the Government's wish to avoid unduly high public expenditure and unintended abuse of immigration controls, we hope that it will not emphasise national interests to such an extent that the spirit of the proposal is lost.


previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2002
Prepared 11 November 2002