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Lawyers In For Britain: The UK and the EU: Benefits, misconceptions and alternatives banner

It is a fundamental principle of EU law that UK citizens can work in, and move between, EU countries without restrictions. This has provided new opportunities for British people and British people are major beneficiaries of the EU’s free movement laws. It is estimated that between 1.4 and 2.2 million British people live in other EU countries.[1] These opportunities would not be as freely available to future generations if the UK were to leave the EU.

  • UK citizens can work in other EU countries without needing a visa or residence permit.[2]
  • UK “cross-border workers” are entitled to receive the same social benefits as the citizens of their host country, such as state pension benefits and access to the national healthcare system.[3]
  • EU law makes it easier for service providers based in the UK (like travel agents, hairdressers, builders or accountants) to do business in other EU countries.[4]
  • In many sectors, national regulators cooperate to ensure that if a service provider such as a vet or a pharmacist passes checks imposed by a British regulator, the individual does not have to go through the same checks in other EU countries.[5]

Travel is significantly easier inside the EU than it is outside. When you cross a frontier within the EU:

  • Although you may be required to show a passport you do not need to show a visa or other permit.
  • You do not have to fill out a customs declaration form.
  • You can take as much money with you as you like.
  • The single European payments area ensures that you can take out money with your bank card from an ATM in another EU country as easily and as safely as you can withdraw sterling in the UK.[6]
  • Your British driving licence and third-party car insurance are valid throughout the EU.[7]
  • Your basic health needs are covered whilst you are in another EU country.[8]
  • Roaming charges on your mobile phone are capped by EU law and are due to be scrapped altogether in 2017.[9]

British citizens benefit from the EU’s transport policies across all transport modes (air, rail, road, maritime and inland waterway). The benefits include: (a) easier and cheaper cross border travel for people and goods; (b) harmonised and improved Europe-wide safety and security standards; and (c) extensive passenger rights across all transport modes. To give some examples:

  • Air passengers now enjoy a greater choice of routes and lower fares, in large part owing to the EU’s liberalisation of air transport.[10] The liberalisation of air transport has created a single European air transport zone, where EU carriers may operate from any airport in the EU to any other airport in the EU (subject to availability of take-off and landing slots) without needing individual route licences from national regulatory authorities.[11] In turn, this has enabled the development of the low cost carrier model across Europe, which has increased air travel and provided consumers in the UK with greater opportunities to fly affordably across the EU than previously.[12]
  • Rail passengers will[13] benefit in a similar way to air passengers from the progressive establishment of a European railway area without frontiers, where rail operators across the continent will need to meet Europe-wide safety standards, and where inter-operability across borders will increase competition, to the benefit of consumers. Consumers will also benefit from the enhanced possibilities of transporting freight across frontiers without barriers, lowering the cost.[14]
  • Bus and coach passengers enjoy more efficient services because of common rules for access to the international market for coach and bus services. Coach operators established in one EU Member State may provide limited cabotage services within another EU Member State, which increases the efficiency of operations and means that passenger buses or coaches need not return to the host state empty.[15]
  • UK citizens travel more safely within Europe and between Europe and the rest of the world because of common safety and security standards which apply to different transport modes.[16] According to British Airways, the relevant EU legislation has resulted “in the safest period in European aviation safety”.[17]
  • Across all modes of transport, British citizens are now granted extensive passenger rights which entitle them to compensation for delays, cancellations and denied boarding wherever they travel within the EU. Specifically, rights are granted to bus and coach,[18] air,[19] rail[20] and ferry passengers.[21]

 

  1. The largest recipients of British residents are Spain and Ireland (each around 400,000), France (170,000) and Germany (150,000) – HM Government, Review of the Balance of Competences between the United Kingdom and the European UnionSingle Market: Free Movement of Persons, Summer 2014, paragraphs 2.105-2.106 – https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/335088/SingleMarketFree_MovementPersons.pdf.
  2. Article 21 TFEU: “Every citizen of the Union shall have the right to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States” – http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:12012E/TXT&from=EN. Article 4 of Directive 2004/38/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on the right of Citizens of the Union and their Family Members to Move and Reside Freely within the Territory of the Member States: “Without prejudice to the provisions on travel documents applicable to national border controls, all Union citizens with a valid identity card or passport and their family members… shall have the right to leave the territory of a Member State to travel to another Member State” – http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=URISERV%3Al33152.
  3. Article 24 of Directive 2004/38/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on the right of Citizens of the Union and their Family Members to Move and Reside Freely within the Territory of the Member States: “Subject to such specific provisions as are expressly provided for in the Treaty and secondary law, all Union citizens residing on the basis of this Directive in the territory of the host Member State shall enjoy equal treatment with the nationals of that Member State within the scope of the Treaty” – http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=URISERV%3Al33152.
  4. The freedom to provide services is set out in Articles 56 and 57 TFEU – http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:12012E/TXT&from=EN. Services are defined under Article 57 as those services provided for remuneration that are not governed by the provisions on the free movement of goods, people or capital; voluntary services are therefore not in scope as they are not provided for remuneration. Services shall in particular include (a) activities of an industrial character; (b) activities of a commercial character; (c) activities of craftsmen; (d) activities of the professions. It has been established by case law that the following services are covered by this definition: employment agency services, tourism, education, some medical services, broadcasting, lotteries, judicial recovery of debts and building loans provided by banks. Articles 56 and 57 can cover the following three situations: (i) the freedom to travel to provide services; (ii) the freedom to travel to receive services; and (ii) the provision of services where neither the provider nor the recipient moves to another Member State (e.g. online service provisions).
  5. This is set out in Directive 2005/36/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 September 2005 on the Recognition of Professional Qualifications (revised by Directive 2013/55/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 November amending Directive 2005/36/EC on the recognition of professional qualifications and Regulation (EU) No 1024/2012 on administrative cooperation through the Internal Market Information System (the IM Regulation – http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/ALL/?uri=celex%3A32013L0055)), which allows the beneficiary to gain access to the same profession in another Member State as that for which he/she is qualified in his/her home state and to pursue it in the host Member State under the same conditions as its nationals. It provides for a system of automatic recognition of qualifications on the basis of an agreed minimum training standard for a number of specific professions, including doctors, nurses, dentists, vets, midwives, pharmacists and architects. Automatic recognition was also extended to certain industrial, craft and commercial professions on the basis of professional experience. For those professions not covered by automatic recognition, a ‘general system’ of recognition was established which allowed for compensatory measures to make up where there may be differences between different national requirements for professional training (e.g. lawyers). Recent updates to this legislation include a requirement for Member States to notify each other when any individual professional is disbarred or otherwise disqualified from professional practice.
  6. The EU legislation behind these measures can be viewed at: http://ec.europa.eu/finance/payments/legislation/index_en.htm.
  7. Directive 2006/126/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 December 2006 on driving licences (Recast) – http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/en/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A32006L0126; Directive 2009/103/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 September 2009 relating to insurance against civil liability in respect of the use of motor vehicles, and the enforcement of the obligations to insure against such liability – http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A32009L0103; HM Government, Review of the Balance of Competences between the United Kingdom and the European UnionTransport, February 2014, paragraph 2.42 – https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/278966/boc-transport.pdf.
  8. UK citizens have the right to access state-provided healthcare on temporary stays in other EU countries on the same basis that it is provided by the host state to its own residents – HM Government, Review of the Balance of Competences between the United Kingdom and the European UnionHealth, July 2013 – https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/224715/2901083_EU-Health_acc.pdf.
  9. In October 2015 the European Parliament’s plenary voted in favour to end roaming charges by June 2017. Consumers will pay the same price for calls, texts and mobile data wherever they are travelling in the EU. Such measures will be implemented by way of an overhaul of EU telecoms rules during 2016. Already from April 2016, roaming will become even cheaper: operators will only be able to charge a small additional amount to domestic prices up to €0.05 per minute of call made, €0.02 per SMS sent, and €0.05 per MB of data (excl. VAT) – https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/news/new-rules-roaming-charges-and-open-internet. See Benefits 1.
  10. European Commission, Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions: An Aviation Strategy for Europe, SWD(2015) 261 final, 7 December 2015, section 1.1: “The number and frequency of intra-EU as well as international routes flown, and the number of passengers have increased substantially… Low-fare EU carriers are now amongst the top carriers both in terms of passengers and in terms of market capitalisation” – https://ec.europa.eu/transparency/regdoc/rep/1/2015/EN/1-2015-598-EN-F1-1.PDF.
  11. Regulation (EC) No 1008/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 September 2008 on common rules for the operation of air services in the Community, establishes common rules for the operation of air services in the Community. Under Article 15, an EU air carrier’s operating licence allows it to operate air services in the EU without Member States being able to impose additional permits or authorisations – http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2008:293:0003:0020:en:PDF.
  12. EasyJet has been quoted as saying: “EasyJet is a product of the EU’s deregulation of Europe’s aviation market. Without deregulation we would not exist” – HM Government, Review of the Balance of Competences between the United Kingdom and the European Union – Transport, February 2014, paragraph 2.5 – https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/278966/boc-transport.pdf.
  13. Regulation (EC) No 881/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004 establishing a European railway agency, establishes a European Railway Agency, which is tasked (among other things) with increasing the safety of the European railway system and improving levels of inter-operability – http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A32004R0881R(01).
  14. Directive 2004/50/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004 amending Council Directive 96/48/EC on the interoperability of the trans-European high-speed rail system and Directive 2001/16/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on the interoperability of the trans-European conventional rail system – http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:32004L0050R(01)&from=EN – and Directive 2008/57/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 June 2009 on the interoperability of the rail system within the Community (Recast) – http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/ALL/?uri=CELEX%3A32008L0057.
  15. Regulation (EC) No 1073/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 October 2009 on common rules for access to the international market for coach and bus services, and amending Regulation (EC) No 561/2006 – http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/ALL/?uri=CELEX%3A32009R1073. See The EU benefits UK consumers and Access to the EU single market benefits UK trade.
  16. For example, air passengers benefit from the EU air safety list, which bans operators of international airlines from operating into the EU where they do not meet EU-wide safety standards. See Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 368/2014 of 10 April 2014 amending Regulation (EC) No 474/2006 establishing the Community list of air carriers which are subject to an operating ban within the Community – http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:32014R0368. The foundation of EU air safety policy is a set of common safety rules, directly applicable in all EU Member States, including Regulation (EC) No 216/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 February 2008 on common rules in the field of civil aviation and establishing a European Aviation Safety Agency – http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A32008R0216, and repealing Council Directive 91/670/EEC, Regulation (EC) No 1592/2002 and Directive 2004/36/EC (establishing the European Aviation Safety Agency) and Regulation (EC) No 1108/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 October 2009 amending Regulation (EC) No 216/2008 in the field of aerodromes, air traffic management and air navigation services and repealing Directive 2006/23/EC (extending the basic rules on safety to aerodromes, air navigation services and air traffic management). In rail, Directive 2004/49/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004 on safety on the Community’s railways and amending Council Directive 95/18/EC on the licensing of railway undertakings and Directive 2001/14/EC on the allocation of railway infrastructure capacity and the levying of charges for the use of railway infrastructure and safety certification – http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/ALL/?uri=CELEX%3A32004L0049, defines safety requirements for the EU’s railways; requires a safety authority to be established in each Member State for supervising safety; requires mutual recognition of safety certificates delivered in the Member States; establishes common safety indicators and common safety targets to facilitate the monitoring of railway safety performance; and establishes common rules for safety investigations.
  17. HM Government, Review of the Balance of Competences between the United Kingdom and the European Union – Transport, February 2014, paragraphs 2.96-2.97 – https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/278966/boc-transport.pdf.
  18. Regulation 181/2011 – http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2011:055:0001:0012:EN:PDF – grants bus and coach passengers, wherever they travel within the EU over distances of 250km or more, specific rights to information or compensation where they are delayed or their journey is cancelled. For all journeys – including those for less than 250km – passengers may not be discriminated against because of their nationality in the fares or conditions which apply to tickets; passengers who are disabled or who have reduced mobility may not be discriminated against and may obtain financial compensation for loss or damage of mobility equipment where there is an accident (Regulation (EU) No 181/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 February 2011 concerning the rights of passengers in bus and coach transport and amending Regulation (EC) No 2006/2004).
  19. Regulation 261/2004 – http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A32004R0261 – establishes common rules on compensation and assistance to passengers in the event of denied boarding and of cancellation or long delay of flights. British citizens departing from the EU on any air carriers, or travelling from a third country back to the EU on an EU carrier, have specific rights if they are denied boarding against their will, their flight is cancelled or their flight is delayed. The Court of Justice of the EU has generally interpreted this Regulation in a manner which reinforces and extends the scope of these rights for passengers (Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 February 2004 establishing common rules on compensation and assistance to passengers in the event of denied boarding and of cancellation or long delay of flights, and repealing Regulation (EEC) No 295/91). Regulation 1107/2006 also establishes specific rights for passengers who have reduced mobility. Carriers may not refuse reservation or boarding to people because of their reduced mobility or disability. Persons with reduced mobility are entitled to specific assistance free of charge in airports, on departure, arrival and during transit, and on board aircraft (e.g. transport of wheelchairs and carriage of dogs for the blind) (Regulation (EC) No 1107/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 July 2006 concerning the rights of disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility when travelling by air – http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2006:204:0001:0009:EN:PDF).
  20. Regulation 1371/2007 grants specific rights to rail passengers travelling in the EU (subject at present to the possibility for EU Member States to exempt domestic rail passenger services from these rules). These rights cover clear and accessible information on the contract, timetables and fares as well as accessibility information for disabled people and those with reduced mobility. During the journey, passengers have the right to information concerning any delays or interruptions to services and to information on how to submit a complaint. Passengers have the right to compensation if registered luggage is lost or damaged. It also strengthens rights to compensation in the case of death or injury. As regards delay, rail passengers may claim 25% of the ticket price for a delay of 60-119 minutes; or 50% of the ticket price for a delay of 120 minutes or more. There are further rights to meals, refreshments and accommodation in particular circumstances (Regulation (EC) No 1371/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2007 on rail passengers’ rights and obligations – http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2007:315:0014:0041:en:PDF).
  21. Regulation 1177/2010 grants rights to passengers travelling in the EU on large ferries and cruise ships on sea, rivers, lakes and canals. The rights include reimbursement or rerouting, where there is a cancellation or delay at departure of more than 90 minutes; assistance in those circumstances, to include meals, refreshments or even accommodation; non-discriminatory treatment of disabled people and those with reduced mobility; and adequate information on travel arrangements (Regulation (EU) No 1177/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 November 2010 concerning the rights of passengers when travelling by sea and inland waterway and amending Regulation (EC) No 2006/2004 – http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2010:334:0001:0016:EN:PDF).