Restrictions in the field of freedom of movement in EU

This article  is about restrictions on freedom of movement. The Treaty allows a Member State to refuse an EU national the right of entry or residence on the groundsof public policy, public security or public health. Suchmeasures must be based on the personal conduct of theindividual concerned, which must represent a sufficientlyserious and present threat to the fundamental interests of the state.   Under Article 45 TFEU, free movement of workersdoes not apply to employment in the public sector, although this derogation has been interpreted in a veryrestrictive way by the CoJ, according to which only thoseposts involving the exercise of public authority and of responsibility for safeguarding the general interest of thestate concerned, such as its internal or external security,may be restricted to its own nationals(4). During a transitional period after the accession of newMember States, certain conditions can be applied thatrestrict the free movement of workers from, to andbetween those Member States. These restrictions do not concern travel abroad or self-employed activity, and theymay differ from one Member State to another. There arecurrently transitional periods for Croatian nationals, whichmust be lifted by July 2020 at the latest(8). As a basic principle, any EU citizen should be able topractise his or her profession freely in any Member State. However, the practical implementation of this principle is often hindered by national requirements for access tocertain professions in the host country. The system forrecognition of professional qualifications has beenreformed to help make labour markets more flexible, andto encourage more automatic recognition of qualifications. Directive 2005/36/EC (as modernised byDirective 2013/55/EU) on the recognition of professionalqualifications consolidates and updates the existingdirectives covering almost all recognition rules, andprovides for innovative features such as the Europeanprofessional card and the mutual evaluation of regulatedprofessions(3,p.62). The EURES (European Employment Services) cooperation network involves the Commission, the publicemployment services of the EU and EEA Member Statesand other partner organisations, and Switzerland. ThroughRegulation (EU) 2016/589 (replacing formerRegulation (EU) No 492/2011), EURES from 2016 has further improved the self-service tools on its digitalplatform so as to become a real Europe-wide job mobilityportal, introducing automated matching of job seekersskills and job openings. Member States should now makeavailable to the EURES portal all job vacancies and jobapplications published at national level, and the portalshould provide general information on living and workingconditions in the country of destination, includinglanguage courses, and provide more personalised careerand recruitment advice. It will also better involve socialpartners in the network and provide better support forcross-border partnerships(2,p.54). The EU has made major efforts to create an environment conducive to worker mobility. These include:

       • A European health insurance card and a directive on cross-border healthcare;

       • The coordination of social security schemes thanks toRegulation (EC) No 883/2004 and implementingRegulation (EC) No 987/2009, currently under revision;

       • The adoption in April 2014 of Directive 2014/50/EU on minimum requirements for enhancing worker mobilitybetween Member States by improving the acquisition andpreservation of supplementary pension rights;

       • The adoption in April 2014 of Directive 2014/54/EU on measures facilitating the exercise of rights conferred on workers in the context of freedom of movement forworkers, which specifically provides for new means of redress for workers discriminated against(1,p.123).

   In March 2018, the European Commission issued itsproposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament andthe Council establishing a European Labour Authority. This new decentralised EU agency will help individuals, businesses and national administrations to get the most outof the opportunities offered by free movement, as Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills andLabour Mobility. The Authority will integrate or absorbvarious existing European initiatives of relevance forlabour mobility. Its main objective is to ensure betterenforcement of EU law and to provide supporting servicesfor mobile workers and employers, thus contributing tofair labour mobility as part of the Social Pillar. TheAuthority will provide information, support cooperationbetween national authorities in cross-border situations andprovide mediation in case of cross-borderdisputes(7,p.143). To strengthen labour mobility, the Commission is working on a proposal to establish a European SocialSecurity Number. This would aim to simplify theinteractions of mobile citizens with public authorities andfacilitate administrative cooperation across nationalborders.  


  1. Armin Cuyvers. Free movement of persons in EU. 2017.344 p.
  2. Carrera, S, What does free movement mean in theory and in practice in an enlarged EU? (2005) 11 ELJ p.  699.
  3. Toner, H, Partnership rights, free movement and EU law (Hart, 2004) p. 286.
  4. The Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union(Lisbon Treaty), 13 December 2007, p.388.
  5. Bercusson, B, The trade union movement and the European Union: Judgment Day (2007) 13 ELJ p. 279. 
  6. Barnard, C and Scott, J, Law of the Single European Market (Hart, 2002)
  7. Handoll J, Chancery W, Free movement of persons in the European Union ( Hart, 1995), p. 726.
  8. Weiss, F, and Wooldridge, F, Free movement of persons within the European Community (Kluwer, 2nd edn, 2007).   

                                                                                                          Samaya Habibova