The EU Rights Clinic, a legal service supporting EU citizens moving across Europe, has filed a complaint to the European Commission criticising Sweden for breach of EU free movement rules. The case concerns the refusal of Swedish tax authorities to issue a personal identification number (“personnummer”) to EU citizens and their family members living in the country.
The complaint was submitted in cooperation with Crossroads Göteborg, a service on EU citizens rights. Together the two organisations received 285 reports from affected people. The European parliament also received a number of petitions on the case.
The personal identification number is necessary to access any kind of service, from opening bank accounts and phone contracts to renting homes, receiving medical treatment and getting a job. Refusing it means people cannot lead a normal life and EU rights organisations argue it constitutes a restriction on free movement rights.
The problem relates to the Swedish population register law, which requires EU citizens to demonstrate that they will reside in Sweden for a year or more before supplying the number. Under EU law, however, EU citizens should be considered resident after having lived in the country for three months.
The case denounces also the Swedish policy on comprehensive sickness insurance. EU laws require EU citizens who are not in employment to hold comprehensive sickness insurance for themselves and their family members, but the rules must be applied in a proportionate way. Current administrative practices in Sweden, argue EU rights groups, mean in practice neither private healthcare nor reliance on the public health service is accepted.
The Commission has previously investigated the problems and issued a letter of formal notice to the Swedish government, the first step in a EU infringement procedure against a member state. But later the case was closed because of assurances received by Swedish authorities. If a solution is not found, infringement proceedings may be opened again.
The EU Rights Clinic will also submit a petition to the European parliament.
The EU Rights Clinic is a collaboration between civil rights group ECAS (European Citizen Action Service) and the University of Kent in Brussels. The organisations are investigating breaches of free movement rights in EU countries and a report is due in the coming weeks.
Claudia Delpero © all rights reserved.
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