EU Citizens’ Rights in Practice: Exploring the Implementation Gap in Free Movement Law

In: European Journal of Migration and Law

Abstract

The purpose of this article is to investigate how EU citizens’ free movement rights are applied and enforced in practice and determine whether the situation on the ground demonstrates the existence of a so-called ‘implementation gap’ involving a disconnect between, on the one hand, how the EU free movement rules are intended to operate and, on the other, their application in practice at the national level. Drawing upon a multitude of sources from Belgium, Ireland, Italy, France, Sweden and the UK, an exploration is undertaken of the ways in which this ‘implementation gap’ manifests itself through a review of the various instances where Member States have sought to restrict the exercise of free movement rights through the adoption of national measures relating to the transposition, application and enforcement of Directive 2004/38 on residence rights.