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Mind the Gap: Towards a Better Enforcement of European Citizens’ Right of Free Movement

The right of the European citizen to move freely throughout the territory of the EU is the clearest and most important demonstration that the EU Treaties are ultimately concerned with individual freedom. But there is a gap between the fine principles of the Treaties as interpreted by the European Court of Justice and what actually happens on the ground.

ECAS considers that reforms are necessary to reduce this gap: rightly or wrongly, ECAS believes that, over the last 20 years there has been no real improvement in the practical realisation of citizens’ rights. The European citizen is still tied up in red tape and free movement of persons lags behind the other internal market freedoms.

ECAS therefore decided that the whole question of enforcement of citizens’ rights should be examined by a panel composed in the main of practising and academic lawyers, with observers from the European Parliament’s petitions committee and the office of the European Ombudsman. The panel met as a group and there were several bilateral meetings and rounds of amendments. The result is this report.

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