Are you an EU national in a different member state? How serious is it not to have your passport or ID card when stopped by the police? The following is a worst case scenario, which hopefully few EU nationals will ever face:
“On 3 December 2001, Mr Oulane was stopped by the Netherlands authorities on grounds of suspicion of illegal residence. During questioning, Mr Oulane, who did not have any identity documents in his possession, stated that he was a French national staying in the Netherlands for approximately three months on holiday. The Netherlands authorities detained him with a view to deportation on the grounds, inter alia, that there was a risk that he would seek to evade deportation.”
Mr Oulane was in fact a French national, and later produced his ID card. Several months later, police again arrested and detained him. (Remember this was in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 when the tendency to arrest “foreign looking” people was intense).
The ECJ ruled:
- The third paragraph of Article 4(2) of Council Directive 73/148/EEC of 21 May 1973 on the abolition of restrictions on movement and residence within the Community for nationals of Member States with regard to establishment and the provision of services is to be interpreted as meaning that the recognition by a Member State of the right of residence of a recipient of services who is a national of another Member State may not be made subject to his production of a valid identity card or passport, where his identity and nationality can be proven unequivocally by other means.
- It is contrary to Article 49 EC for nationals of a Member State to be required in another Member State to present a valid identity card or passport in order to prove their nationality, when the latter State does not impose a general obligation on its own nationals to provide evidence of identity, and permits them to prove their identity by any means allowed by national law.
- A detention order with a view to deportation in respect of a national of another Member State, imposed on the basis of failure to present a valid identity card or passport even when there is no threat to public policy, constitutes an unjustified restriction on the freedom to provide services and is therefore contrary to Article 49 EC.
- It is for nationals of a Member State residing in another Member State in their capacity as recipients of services to provide evidence establishing that their residence is lawful. If no such evidence is provided, the host Member State may undertake deportation, subject to the limits imposed by Community law.