The cases below are concrete examples of the type of issues referred to the EU Rights Clinic and the type of actions the Clinic has been able to take to resolve them.
You can watch a video about a typical case handled by the EU Rights Clinic here.
- Securing permanent residence for EU citizens and their family members in the UK
Paulis is a Latvian national who has studied and now works in the UK. Paulis’s Ethiopian wife works for the NHS. His application for permanent residence document was refused twice because he did not hold private healthcare insurance. The Home Office’s current policy on EEA residence rights means that it does not consider that reliance on the NHS meets the condition for having comprehensive sickness insurance. This was despite the fact that the couple had contributed over £35,000 by way of income tax and national insurance contributions during their nine years of residence in the UK. Following the intervention of the EU Rights Clinic, Paulis and his wife were eventually issued a permanent residence document by the Home Office. In this case, the Clinic made successful reference to the Home Office’s transitional policy for students which waives the CSI requirement in respect of EEA nationals who held a registration certificate issued prior to 20 June 2011.
Call for evidence: EEA nationals who are currently facing problems to obtain permanent residence in the UK due to not holding comprehensive sickness insurance (CSI) should contact us for further assistance.
- British citizen unable to export disability living allowance to Hungary
A British national who has been in receipt of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for several years decided to move to Hungary in order to obtain specialist treatment for his disability and be closer to his family who have emigrated there. Before leaving, he was advised by the UK’s Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) over the telephone that he would not lose his entitlement to DLA if he moved to Hungary for treatment. When the client did move, his DLA was promptly stopped by the DWP, on the basis that this particular benefit could not be “exported” to Hungary.
The EU Rights Clinic examined the case to determine whether our client could insist on continuing to claim DLA while living in Hungary. The issue is currently the subject of legal proceedings before the Court of Appeal in England. The Clinic drafted a detailed letter of advice for the client which laid out his options. Based on our advice, the client decided to return to the UK in order to ensure he could obtain reinstatement of DLA without having to await the outcome of the case before the Court of Appeal.
- Family member of EU citizen assisted in obtaining residence card in Belgium
The spouse of an EU national employed in Brussels sought the assistance of the EU Rights Clinic in applying for a residence card with the Belgian authorities. He applied for a residence card as the family member of an EU citizen. The delay of the Belgian authorities in issuing the card meant that the client was prevented from travelling back to Turkey to visit his ailing father who was gravely ill. Although he could have travelled back, he could not then have the guarantee of re-enter the EU because his Schengen visa has expired.
The EU Rights Clinic has now written to the Belgian authorities on behalf of the client, making the case for expediting the process in light of the client’s difficult circumstances. The case was successfully resolved when the client was issued with a residence card soon after that enable him to travel back home to visit his father.
- EU nationals in Spain complain about discriminatory tax reporting requirements
The EU Rights Clinic’s assistance was requested by a Spanish NGO which represents the interests of EU citizens residing in Spain. Their concerns centred on the introduction of new tax declaration requirements by the Spanish Government which they view as discriminatory for several reasons. Firstly, the rules concerning foreign assets involve shorter filing deadlines that the corresponding rules on Spanish assets. Secondly, given that foreign nationals are on the whole more likely to have assets held back home and thus are much more likely to be affected by the rules than Spanish citizens who are more likely to hold Spanish assets. Thirdly, in view of complex and restrictive reporting system requiring specialist tax knowledge and fluency in Spanish, foreigners are put at a disadvantage because incomplete or incorrect filings will incur higher penalties than those affecting other tax declarations.
The EU Rights Clinic examined the Spanish tax rules and came to the conclusion that the Spanish foreign assets declaration rules discriminate against EU citizens who reside in Spain contrary to EU law. In particular, the Clinic considered that these requirements constitute a breach of Article 18 TFEU (non-discrimination on the grounds of nationality) and, separately, Article 63 TFEU (freedom of movement of capital). As a result, the Clinic has filed a petition with the European Parliament and a complaint with the European Commission. Following a hearing held by the European Parliament’s committee on petitions on the issue, the European Commission has launched official infringement proceedings against Spain (case 2014/4330).
- Family member denied right to apply for a residence card in Cyprus
The spouse of an EU citizen living in Cyprus contacted the EU Rights Clinic as he was prevented from being able to apply for a residence card without adequate reasons being furnished. The Client had previously sought redress through the EU’s SOLVIT network but the problem remained unresolved.
Upon reviewing the case, the EU rights Clinic determined that the Client’s initial application did not meet the onerous requirements of the Cypriot authorities. The Clinic helped the client in submitting a revised and complete application which has now been accepted by the Cypriot authorities. The client has since been issued with a certificate of application and is awaiting the outcome of his application.
- UK national without the right to vote in the UK or in Denmark where he lives
A British citizen who has been living in Denmark for several decades has complained that he is disenfranchised because he no longer has the right to vote in UK general elections and has no right to vote in national elections in Denmark. The voting rules in the UK are such that after 15 years of residence abroad, UK nationals living overseas lose the right to vote in parliamentary elections. The only solution available to British citizens wishing to vote in the UK is to return home and resume residence there. In Denmark, EU citizens who are permanent residents there do not have the right to vote in Danish parliamentary elections. Moreover, Danish citizenship rules do not allow for dual citizenship. Given that the client does not wish to relinquish his British nationality, he is stuck in a situation where he cannot vote in national elections either in his country of nationality or in his country of permanent residence. The client is effectively disenfranchised from his right to democratic participation in national elections.
The EU Rights Clinic considers that, while voting rules are a national competence, these rules do have to comply with the EU rules. One option being considered is the launching of a test case to establish that EU citizens who are permanent residents in an EU country other than their country of nationality should be entitled to vote in general elections there. The other option would be an advocacy campaign, to encourage the EU institutions to adopt legislation to grant the right to vote in all elections.
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You can find out more about the casework of the EU Rights Clinic here.