Belonging to the EU: How hard can it be?
One Union but 28 Member States. One Directive on Free Movement in the EU but many interpretations.
Free movement is one of the EU’s crowning glories with 17 million EU citizens enjoying their right to live in another EU country.
But being an EU citizen from another Member State and being a national can lead to differences. Hurdles arise when it comes to receiving residence permits or social assistance. This in turn impacts education, employment and housing.
And if you can’t be educated, find a job or housing then creating a sense of belonging is in jeopardy.
“Belonging is […] based on the relations that each person builds in their life,” says Anna Rurka, President of the Council of Europe’s Platform of International Non-Governmental Organisations, and a speaker at the Fundamental Rights Forum 2018.
“Global European identity is a mosaic of different components that each person collect during its life. Only open societies have the chance to develop,” she adds.
Gerhard Ermischer, a participant at the Forum, hopes it will “give a boost to pro-European identity and vision and especially give support and vigour to all the citizens fighting for democracy and civil rights all over Europe.”
FRA’s report, ‘Making EU citizens’ rights a reality: national courts enforcing freedom of movement and related rights’, gives food for thought when it comes to understanding what belonging to the EU means in practice.
It gives examples from national case law of how EU citizens from other Member States can be discriminated against, directly or indirectly, because of their nationality.
It should guide discussions on how we can effectively ensure EU citizens can fully enjoy the benefits of freely moving and living throughout the Union. And ultimately help instil a stronger sense of belonging across the EU.