If you're an EU citizen, you have the right to live, work and study in any of the 27 EU member states plus the 4 nations in the European Free Trade Association. As this article shows, however, there are a number of conditions attached to your right to reside elsewhere in Europe.
Conditions depend on your status
It is important to recognise that the conditions placed on your right to live in another European country will depend on your status.
For example, if you are a student, unemployed, or want to retire in an EU country in which you have never worked, you must have sufficient financial resources and health insurance to ensure you do not become a social security burden.
These conditions do not apply, however, if you retire in a country where you worked previously.
Note also that if you are unemployed, you have the right to live in another EU country for a 'reasonable period' of time - generally 3-6 months - in order to look for a job.
No matter how long you have to look for a job, however, you cannot be asked to leave the country if you can prove that you are still seriously looking for a job and that you have a real chance of finding one.
Nationals of new member states
Moreover, following the enlargement of the EU in 2004 and 2007, workers from some of the new member states may face restrictions on access to the labour markets of the older member states;
- If you are a national of the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Poland, Slovenia or Slovakia: you have the right to work without a work permit in the following countries: Belgium; Bulgaria; Cyprus; Czech Republic; Denmark; Estonia; Finland; France; Greece; Hungary; Ireland; Italy; Latvia; Lithuania; Luxembourg; Netherlands; Poland; Portugal; Romania; Slovakia; Slovenia; Spain; Sweden; Norway; Iceland; and Liechtenstein. Until 30 April 2011, however, restrictions apply in: Austria; Germany; Malta; and UK. And Switzerland can impose restrictions until 31 May 2011.
- If you are a national of Romania or Bulgaria: you have the right to work without a work permit in: Bulgaria; Cyprus; Czech Republic; Denmark; Estonia; Finland; Greece; Hungary; Latvia; Lithuania; Poland; Portugal; Romania; Slovakia; Slovenia; Spain; and Sweden. Until 31 December 2013, however, your ability to work might be restricted in: Austria; Belgium; France; Germany; Iceland; Ireland; Italy; Liechtenstein; Luxembourg; Malta; Netherlands; Norway; and UK. And Switzerland can impose restrictions until 31 May 2016.
Members of your family, whatever their nationality, may go with you and take advantage of their right to live in another EU / EFTA country.
- If you are not a student, your family is defined as your spouse, children under 21 (or dependent on you), as well as your parents and your spouse's parents, if they are also dependent on you.
- If you are a student, however, the right of residence is limited to your spouse and dependent children.
[Continue reading in Part 2]