Officials in Brussels are threatening Britain with legal action and a fine over claims that immigration restrictions on EU members break European law.
The UK Government has been told it has just two months to comply with all of the Free Movement Directive or it will be taken to court, the Telegraph reports.
The Home Office is facing claims from the European Commission that it has failed to implement four highly technical aspects of the legislation on the rights of EU citizens to live and work anywhere on the continent.
“As one of the EU’s larger member states, the UK is home to around 2 million citizens from other EU countries. It is therefore important that UK laws respect their rights,” said the European Commission, executive arm of the EU.
Legal experts believe it would be impossible for the Government to implement all the changes required of it on time, and that it would likely lose at least one aspect of any case brought to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg.
But the Home Office said last night it did not agree with the ultimatum, made in a “reasoned opinion” published by the EC on Thursday, and would fight the case.
A Home Office spokesman said: “We disagree with the Commission’s opinion, which is not binding, and we will appeal.
“As the Home Secretary has said at the Council of Ministers, we will not tolerate abuse of the Free Movement Directive.”
Under the 2004 Free Movement Directive (2004/38/EC), which Brussels says should have been implemented fully by 2006, citizens of the 27-nation bloc enjoy the right “to freely travel, live and work anywhere in the European Union”.
It also guarantees certain rights to non-European relatives of EU citizens, but it is claimed that Britain is denying them.
Family members of EU citizens are supposed to be able to travel with them around the continent without needing a visa, but “the UK laws do not grant this important right which lies at the heart of free movement”.
In addition, the EC says Britain should consider granting residency rights to people who are extended family members of EU citizens.
Private Comprehensive Medical Insurance
It is also claimed that the Government should require EU citizens to take out private health insurance when they move here, despite their entitlement to free NHS care, because all other European countries rely on that system.
Bulgarian and Romanian students applying for a yellow card to study and work in the UK are forced to take out ‘Comprehensive Sickness Insurance’.
Britain’s current system “breaches EU law”, the EC says.
Romanian and Bulgarian workers should be given the same residency documents as other EU citizens during their first 12 months in Britain, it is claimed.
The Free Movement Press Release states:
‘The United Kingdom does not issue workers from Romania and Bulgaria during the first 12 months with the same residence documents as workers from other EU Member States. While EU law allows the United Kingdom to temporarily keep in place a work-permit scheme for workers from Bulgaria and Romania, those who have a work permit have the same right to reside as other EU workers and must be issued the corresponding residence documents.’
Bulgarians and Romanians are the lowest in the pecking order of EU migrants and can only stay legally in the UK for more than three months under strict conditions.
However, many of those who arrive in the UK are unaware of the restrictions on working – or that they will need a work permit or registration card (e.g. yellow card) in order to work legally.
When it comes to employment Bulgarian and Romanian citizens do not have the same rights as other Europeans and EU members, for instance from Poland, Slovakia or other A8 Accession countries.
Thousands work ‘under the radar’ for employers who either don’t understand the restrictions or don’t care, But this leads to exploitation and low wages.
Work legally on a yellow card
Bulgarians and Romanians coming to the UK on Yellow Card registration permits can work and study full time if they are taking a work-based vocational course such as NVQ or QCF courses in Health and Social Care.
Despite high unemployment figures, Britain still needs workers to fill vacancies in certain job sectors, such as the care industry where healthcare workers are needed now, especially in London and the South East of England.
Yet within a few short years, he added, the vast majority of those same immigrants are racing up the ladder of success and achieving their goals.
If you need any immigration advice or help with Sponsorship or Work Permits, Visa, ILR/Settlement, Citizenship, dependant visa or an appeal against a refusal please email:
Majestic College offer special packages for EU students. They also have a number of employers looking for staff right now and are willing to employ Bulgarians and Romanians.
For more information call Joanna on 0208 207 1020 or email firstname.lastname@example.org