The European Parliament has approved a new directive that will remove
red-tape surrounding immigration rules for workers and their families moving
from one European Union (EU) member state to another.
The legislation gives any employed or self-employed EU citizen the right to
live in any EU country, and requires governments to abolish any rules requiring
them to obtain local identity cards.
The law also allows EU citizens an unconditional right to permanent
residency in the new country if they have continually lived in a foreign EU
member state for five years.
Moreover, the directive gives better protection from expulsion for non-EU
family members if a EU citizen spouse dies or divorces their partner.
EU justice and home affairs commissioner Antonio Vitorino, said: "This
text represents an ambitious step forward in promoting citizens’ rights."
Many European countries fear thousands of workers could flood their job
markets when the 10 new East European countries join the EU in May.
UK home secretary David Blunkett has announced changes to the law that will
make it easier to prosecute companies employing illegal workers.
Under the new regulations, which come into force on 1 May 2004 and amend the
Immigration and Asylum Act 1996, the Government also plans to strengthen border
controls and increase enforcement activity to tackle the organised criminal
networks that bring illegal workers to the UK.