10.01.2013

Anything worng with EU law? The EU Rights Clinic is there to help!

On 10th of January 2013, the official opening day of the European year of citizens, ECAS is launching a Hotline as part of its EU Rights Clinic to overcome the visible and hidden barriers to European citizenship. 

“20 years since Union citizenship was created with the Maastricht Treaty, awareness of rights is increasing in Europe while respect for them is deteriorating”, said Tony Venables, Director of the European Citizen Action Service. 

The EU Rights Clinic set up by ECAS and the University of Kent in Brussels will collect evidence about problematic cases, particularly in the areas of: 

Barriers to the Free Movement of Young Job Seekers and Students. How difficult is it becoming for young job seekers, trainees or volunteers to move around Europe in time of economic crisis and high unemployment? The recent funding crisis over Erasmus further illustrates these difficulties. 

Entry and Residence in the EU. How easy is it for family members or partners of EU citizens to share the same European rights to move in the EU? Problems of acquiring visas and rights to family reunion are the most frequently mentioned infringements of EU law across Member States.2 The visible EU tensions over Schengen may be manifestations of a deeper malaise. 

Social Security across Borders. There is real friction between European rights and pressures on national governments to combat so-called “benefit tourists”. With citizens losing their social entitlements in their country of origin when they move across borders, but without them acquiring social rights in their country of destination, are we seeing increasing numbers of European citizens – particularly those on lower incomes – being left in limbo? 

Citizens throughout the EU will be able to call the hotline (+32 (2) 548 04 94) or send an e-mail (rightsclinic@ecas.org), fill in the on-line form or Skype (rights.clinic01; rights.clinic02; rights.clinic03) in order to share their personal stories, seek help and thus contribute to improvements in European policy and legislation. 

The EU Rights Clinic will encourage the grouping together of complaints and requests in order to achieve greater impact and success in enforcing European rights. Cases which require solution at a national level will be handled in collaboration with ECAS' respective national partners – for example the Kent Law Clinic and the AIRE Centre (Advice on Individual Rights in Europe) in the UK, the Migrants’ Information and Support Network (GISTI) in France, Accem in Spain, the Union of Citizens Advice Bureaux in Poland and the National Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux in Romania. Over time, a network of rights’ advisers spanning all the member states will be created to expand the reach of the EU Rights Clinic and to contribute to closing the gap between the fine principles of EU law and their implementation in practice. 

For more information and regular update on progress with new cases: Elisa Bruno, project coordinator, ECAS, elisa.bruno@ecas.org; +32 (0)2 548 04 96