Free Movement of Workers in the United Kingdom 2008-2009

It is always nice to come across a substantial and well written analysis which I had overlooked.

REPORT on the Free Movement of Workers in the United Kingdom in 2008-2009 (and archived copy) is well written, and though it is more than 5 years old it remains relevant.

The report was apparently commissioned by the European Commission and prepared by Catherine Barnard (Cambridge University), Elspeth Guild (Radboud University Nijmegen), Alison Hunter (Wesley Gryk & Partners), Simon Roberts (Nottingham University), Nicolas Rollason (Kingsley Napley solicitors) and Bernard Ryan (University of Kent).

It begins:

The UK’s implementation of free movement of workers in 2008 revealed many continuities, and a few surprises. While the UK authorities place limited obstacles in the way of EU nationals seeking to exercise free movement rights to work in the UK (other than Bulgarians and Romanians), this laisser faire regime applies most successfully when there is no contact between the EU worker and the UK authorities. As soon as the EU national needs the assistance of the UK authorities, the problems start.

On immigration related matters, the UK agency responsible, UKBA, has been restructured, the team responsible for EU matters moved to Liverpool, and delays in dealing with requests for registration certificates (for EU citizens) and residence cards (for their third country national family members) have become quite extraordinary – by March 2009 the average delay between application and receipt was ten to twelve months. Further, UKBA requires renewed evidence of employment when it gets around to looking at a file but often provides the EU national only 14 days to submit it!

Regarding admission and departure, the UK authorities have refused admission to a Dutch parliamentarian on the basis of public policy. HM Inspector of Prisons found that 5% of persons detained in UK centres in France were Lithuanian nationals seeking to come to the UK. The Minister announced new measures on expulsion of EU nationals. In the press release, the Minister is quoted: ‘We are determined to remove people that harm our communities – wherever they are from. That is why we are making it easier to kick out European criminals and stop them from returning. In 2007 we removed over 500 European nationals. By reducing the threshold for deportation, we will ensure that we can remove even more’. The sentiment is rather at odds with the spirit of the EC Treaty.

The admission of third country national family members remained a matter of contention. The European Court of Justice (ECJ) decision in Metock 26 July 2008 was implemented in mid December 2008. However, now UKBA has increased the documentary burden on applicants substantiallyUKBA considers that only direct family members benefit from the Metock ruling.

The report includes a Home Office response to some of the points raised.

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