European Union Freedom of Movement

The right to reside, work, invest, study & retire in any EU country

Dr. Jean-Philippe Chetcuti | 06 Feb 2017

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EU citizenship comes with a number of benefits, such as the European Union Freedom of Movement, which are widely sought out by individuals coming from non-EU member states who seek to reside, invest, study or retire in any EU country. Through Malta’s accession to the European Union in 2004, Maltese citizens have the opportunity to benefit from the four freedoms of movement guaranteed to EU citizens across a majority of member states. The European Union Freedom of Movement is very vast in scope and includes the free movement of goods, persons, capital and services.  

The Maltese Citizenship by Investment Programme is specifically tailored for non-EU citizens seeking accesses to the EU Single Market and to benefit from the European Union Freedom of Movement which provides the opportunity to invest or do business freely, or even to reside in any EU member state, most of which offer a very high standard of living.

Alternatively, Malta has also set up a number of residency programmes.Although they may not grant the full benefits as offered under the Malta Citizenship by Investment Programme, applicants benefiting under these programmes would have access to the Schengen Area which would allow them unfettered movement throughout 26 European states.

European Union Freedom of Movement of Persons and Workers

The European Union freedom of movement of persons throughout the EU member states has been a gradual uphill climb which finds its roots back in 1957 when workers were allowed to move freely within the EU, or what was back then known as the European Economic Community. The next milestone which further consolidated the free movement of persons within the internal market was the creation of the Schengen Agreement. The Maastricht Treaty, which came into force in 1993, introduced the notion of an EU Citizenship which stands as the basis for the right of persons to move and reside freely within the territory of the member states.

Nowadays, the Schengen Area includes 22 EU countries and Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. A number of countries, including the UK, Ireland and Denmark have made reservations with respect to the Schengen Agreement and have opted to incorporate only various aspects of it. Cyprus, Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia are not part of the Schengen area for various reasons.

A worker’s right of movement and residence in any EU member state for more than three months is subject to a number of conditions. EU citizens and their family members must have sufficient resources and sickness insurance if they are not working to ensure that they do not become a burden on the host country. While no residency permits are required, EU citizens may be required to register with the authorities of the host country. Non-EU family members of the EU citizen would need to apply for a residency permit. After a five year period of uninterrupted legal residence, EU citizens and their non-EU family will be given the right to permanent residence. Restrictions to the right of residence and expulsion apply on grounds of public policy, public security of public health.

The migrant crisis which has afflicted Europe following the revolutions in various North African countries, as well as Syria has created significant challenges, particularly for countries at the external borders of the Schengen Area. The right to freedom of movement has long been upheld as a core principle of the European Union, and indeed the European Parliament strives to safeguard this right and ensure that workers are treated equally and will not be subject to discrimination in their host state when it comes to employment, working conditions, remuneration, dismissal and social and tax benefits. However, in cases where countries felt overwhelmed by the migratory pressure imposed upon them, some felt the need to close their internal borders or introduce temporary border controls. Besides the migration crisis, recent terrorist attacks have led several to question the future of the Schengen area.

European Union Freedom of Movement of Goods

For the proper functioning of the internal market, the free movement of goods was an essential requisite that has boosted trade among European countries and promoted European businesses. The European Union freedom of movement of goods was made possible through the elimination of custom duties and quantitative restrictions (quotas), and the prohibition of measures which achieve the same results. This was done through the incorporation of principles such as mutual recognition, the elimination of physical and technical barriers, as well as promotion standardisation which has further consolidated the internal market. In recent years, product marketing rules have been strengthened and more efforts have been undertaken to increase the free movement of goods in an area without internal borders where it is possible to allow goods to move as freely as if it was one national market.

European Union Freedom of Movement of Services

The freedom to establish one’s business anywhere in the European Union and to provide services was essential to the proper functioning of the internal market as it guarantees that businesses as well as professionals can freely move within the EU to offer their services.

European Union Freedom of Movement of Capital

The European Union free movement of capital is the youngest of all treaty freedoms and the broadest as well. Whilst this freedom was not originally provided for, changing circumstances in the global and European arenas led to the removal of all restrictions on capital movements between member states and third countries. This liberalisation was carried out to supplement the aforementioned freedoms, and to encourage economic progress by allowing capital to be invested efficiently and promoting the use of the Euro as an international currency. The advent of the Euro further pushed the EU to take on the role of a key global player.  

Chetcuti Cauchi offers a number of programmes for non-EU citizens wishing to benefit from the European Union freedom of movement. Besides the Malta Citizenship by Investment Programme which confers the full benefits of an EU citizenship, we offer the Malta Golden Residence Programme, the Malta Golden Visa Programme and the Portugal Golden Visa Programme




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