Respect the right to free movement, EU countries told

European Parliament has strongly contested the position of some European leaders calling for changes and restrictions to the freedom of movement of EU citizens.

Temporary restrictions to the free movement of workers from Bulgaria and Romania expired on 1st January 2014. Since then some countries including the UK have been trying to restrict the benefits migrants can claim when they move from one EU country to another.

In a joint resolution tabled by the EPP, S&D, ALDE, Greens/EFA and GUE/NGL groups, the Parliament called on EU member states to comply with Treaty provisions on freedom of movement, a right guaranteed to all European citizens.

It also called on EU countries to refrain from any actions that could affect the right of free movement and reject any proposal to cap numbers of EU migrants as that is contrary to the Treaty principle of the free movement of people.

Parliament noted that with the approach of the European elections, the free movement of EU citizens has become a campaign issue for some political parties and there is a risk that this debate could lead to a rise in racism and xenophobia.

It also pointed out that high-ranking European politicians have recently made several statements undermining the right to freedom of movement.

The resolution underlined that recent Commission studies have shown that mobile workers are net contributors to the economies and budgets of the host countries.

Although only 2.8% of all EU citizens live in an EU country other than their own, MEPs said they are nonetheless a key element in the success of the internal market and boost Europe's economy.

MEPs called on the member states not to discriminate against EU mobile workers, when wrongfully associating the right of free movement for work purposes with alleged abuse of social security systems.

They reminded member states of their social responsibility to tackle misuse of their social welfare systems, regardless of whether it is committed by their own citizens or by citizens of other EU countries.

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