Fighting abuse of EU citizens' right to free movement: Commission helps Member States tackle marriages of convenience

The European Commission published on 26 September 2014 a handbook to help EU Member States take action against marriages of convenience between EU citizens and non-EU nationals in the context of EU law on free movement. The Commission prepared the handbook in close cooperation with Member States.

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The right of free movement and residence within the EU is a fundamental right of EU-citizens and a particular cherished one: over 14 million EU citizens currently live, work or study in another Member State.

In the context of EU law on free movement, and upon the request of EU Member States, the European Commission produced a handbook to effectively tackle marriages of convenience between EU citizens and non-EU nationals.  

According to Martine Reicherts, the EU's Justice Commissioner, "Member States need to be well equipped to intervene when marriage is misused to facilitate irregular immigration”, and this handbook provide them with specific guidelines and tools to prevent such abuses. At the same time, the right of free movement “is non-negotiable and this handbook will help strengthen and safeguard it” has asserted Martine Reicherts.

Already the EU free movement rules contain a series of safeguards that allow Member States to prevent abuses. In addition to it, the Commission's handbook outlines the following:

  • Operational guidance on how to approach investigations into alleged marriages of convenience;
  • Effective investigative techniques developed by national authorities and information on the role that Europol, Eurojust and the European Commission can play in assisting national authorities;
  • Advice on the application of a "double-lock mechanism" to minimize the danger of false identification of a genuine couple as abusive;
  • An overview of the rules that national authorities must take into account when acting to prevent or tackle abuse and details on what these rules mean in practice.

For more information, refer to the European Commission press release, the European Commission Free movement and residence homepage and the handbook.

Publication Date: Fri 26 Sep 2014
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