Does total freedom of movement actually exist in the European Union?

Bulgaria and Romania became a member of the EU in 2007 Since the January first, Romanian and Bulgarian workers have total freedom to work in any member State of the European Union, without the need to request a permission to work. It is true that Bulgaria and Romania became members of the European Union in 2007, but nine member States established some restrictions to the free movement of these workers (Germany, France, Spain, Belgium, Luxembourg, Malta, Austria, United Kingdom and Holland). These countries adopted transitory measures in order to block the possible migratory flow from Romania and Bulgaria.

These restrictions were adopted by virtue of a clause established on the Treaty of accession signed in 2005 by Bulgaria and Romania. Based on this clause, some member States are able to ask for a permission to work, in order to avoid a possible “disturbance of its labour market”.

In my opinion, I think that clause of the Treaty of accession breaches the EU law, and the pro-European spirit that inspired all the integration process of Europe. I think so because of the article 45.2 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union:

 “Such freedom of movement shall entail the abolition of any discrimination based on nationality between workers of the Member States as regards employment, remuneration and other conditions of work and employment.”

Extra requirements established for Bulgarian and Romanian workers break the article 45.2 because those requirements are discriminating against these workers. Exactly for that reason, I think this clause should not have been included on the Treaty of accession.

Anyway, given the circumstances, the first warning signs have been noticed in the United Kingdom. The UK government has introduced some measures in order to impede the hypothetical crowd of Bulgarian and Romanian workers. These measures consist of a tightening of the conditions to accede to the health service and social housing. In the same way, Romanian and Bulgarian workers must prove that they are looking for job insistently if they travel to UK.

This situation has produced several reactions in Brussels, and two voices have been raised up against David Cameron.  The European spokesperson of employment, Jonathan Todd, has expressed that these measures could breach the European legislation, and therefore, a proceeding of EU law infraction would be opened against United Kingdom. Moreover, the European commissioner of employment, László Andor, has claimed in a statement that the restriction to the movement of European workers is not the solution in order to reduce the high levels of unemployment, and it must not be one of the answers to the economic crisis.

It is true that the article 45.2 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union foresees the establishment of justified limitations for reasons of public order, security and public health. However, in this situation, these limitations are out of place, considering that the migratory flow of these workers has no impact on these concepts.

In the event that United Kingdom carries out these measures, the European Commission will send a citation to the UK government, in order that United Kingdom explains the situation. If United Kingdom does not reply, or the answer is not satisfactory, the Commission will issue a challenging report. On the report, the Commission will express a period of time in which United Kingdom must obey their obligations. If that period of time passes, and the United Kingdom keeps disobeying the Commission orders, the Commission will be able to sue the United Kingdom before the judge of the Court of Justice of the EU.

Sources | EuroEfe, RTVE.es

Sources | La informaciónmigrarconderechos.es

Image | Bulgaria&Romania

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Law degree at Alcalá University (Madrid). Master in European Union at the Royal Institute of European Studies (Zaragoza). Read Full

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