Belgium ‘breaching’ EU rules on free movement
26 October 2005
BRUSSELS – A lawyer advising the European Court of Justice has concluded that Belgium is infringing the right of EU citizens to free movement within member states.
Damaso Ruiz-Jarabo Colomer said Belgium was wrong to deny a residence card to EU citizens who did not produce proof that they had the personal means to support themselves.
Ruiz-Jarabo Colomer also said it was “disproportional” that Belgium frequently “automatically” delivered expulsion orders to EU citizens who had not produced all the necessary documents for a card.
The European Commission asked the court in Luxembourg to rule after receiving several complaints about Belgian foreigners’ office procedure.
It was particularly concerned by the case of a Spanish woman who was refused a residence card in 1999. The Belgian authorities served an order on her to leave the country, despite the fact that her partner was financially supporting her and their children.
Ruiz-Jarabo Colomer said in his view current legislation allows an EU member state to ask for financial guarantees from citizens from other EU countries, in order to protect its social security system.
However, he insisted that those guarantees did not necessarily have to come from the citizen herself: they could also be offered by a third party – in this case, the woman’s partner.
The lawyer also said Belgium should allow a reasonable length of time for EU citizens to produce their paperwork before serving expulsion orders.
The Luxembourg court should rule on the case in the next few weeks. Generally, the court accepts the advice of its lawyers.
[Copyright Expatica News 2005]
Subject: Belgian news