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Christian 71 Example Road Center of the City Dublin Ireland

Christian 71 Example Road Center of the City Dublin Ireland

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Published by: api-25886097 on Dec 14, 2009
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ChristianPhone: +353-87-123456771 Example RoadMobile: +353-87-1234567Center of the CityFax: +353-87-1234567DublinE-mail: ca.funke@abc.xyzIreland // Irlande // IerlandEuropean ParliamentThe President of the European ParliamentRue Wiertz1047 BrusselsBELGIUMDublin, 28
th
August 2008
Petition to the Parliament // visa-free-travel for EU-Family members
Dear Sir or Madam,Within the EU there are two main legal frameworks that govern the free movement of persons,namely the “Schengen agreement”, which is widely and publicly known, as well as Directive2004/38/EC, of which general awareness is much smaller.I would like to draw your attention to the practical difficulties that EU citizens face whenattempting to exercise their right of free movement together with their non-EU family member, asguaranteed by the mentioned Directive. (Figure 1)While the Schengen agreement comprises most countries of the European Union (plus Norway andIceland, with Switzerland and Liechtenstein to follow soon), five countries of the European Union,namely the Republic of Ireland, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland,Bulgaria, Romania and Cyprus,are not part of the Schengen agreement as far as lack of routine border controls is concerned (referred to as “the exceptions” for the remainder of this document).For EU citizens with non-EU family members, the above situation has major implications. Whentravelling inside the Schengen area there are no complications. As passports are not checkedEU citizens travelling with their non-EU family members are able to exercise their right of freemovement under Directive 2004/38/EC. However, when travelling in one of the following scenarios
Between “the exceptions” OR 
From “Schengen” to one of “the exceptions” OR 
From one of “the exceptions” to “Schengen” OR 
From outside the EU into the EU passengers are (in most cases) subject to immigration control. This does not always run verysmoothly:As per Directive 2004/38/EC, once in possession of a “Residence Card for Family Members”(Article 10), family members of EU citizens shall be allowed to travel throughout all member stateswithout any additional visas (Article 5, section 2), as long as they are accompanying or joining their EU family member.
 
The implications discussed above, derived from Directive 2004/38/EC, are not known to allrelevant authorities, such as immigration officers, embassy and consular staff; nor are they known by all airline staff involved in checking passengers in to flights.One of the biggest problems is that the “Residence Card for Family Members” has no uniform look, but takes a different form in many EU countries, especially in “the exceptions”.Approaching different embassies of Schengen countries in Dublin (Ireland) about visa requirementsoften yields different answers. Also the embassies' websites mention very diverse, mostly incorrector incomplete information. As an example, see Figure 2, showing a screenshot of a Schengen-Embassy in Dublin, as well as emails received (Figure 3) from embassies in Dublin to the samequestion.The worst practical consequence following from the above of which I am aware involves a couplewho were properly documented as per Directive 2004/38/EC. A Schengen embassy in London(correctly) advised that a visa for Schengen is NOT necessary, and referred to 2004/38/EC. Onarrival in Spain the immigration officer insisted that a Schengen visa is a requirement and entry wasdenied. Before it was possible to submit an appeal, the non-EU partner in question was arrested anddeported back to the UK.Of course the couple in question are now legally challenging this decision and claimingcompensation, but their holidays are also ruined.The problem can also occur before immigration control, for example when boarding flights.Uninformed airline staff may deny boarding, claiming that no relevant visa is held.Even if a holder of a “Residence Card for Family Members” is able to board the plane successfully,on arrival it is quite common to have to point out the law to immigration officers (the very peoplewho should know most about it). Extensive conversations around the right of entry are usual.The Commission is currently finalising an investigation into the overall compliance of member states with the directive. However, many more cases and complications as described above could bethe consequence if this matter is not treated with the utmost priority.I therefore urge you to take all appropriate measures to find a solution to the above problem asquickly as possible. May I suggest the following for immediate implementation:
All border crossings in the EU (and non-EU Schengen members) should be equipped with afolder that details all cards that allow entry, eliminating the problem of the (currently)diverse appearance of the cards issued by the different member states. This is actually practised with great success in Switzerland, ruling out any ambiguity. (Figure 4)
Leaflets similar to such folders should also be published outlining the above law anddepicting examples of all possible cards that allow entry. These leaflets should be madeavailable to the general public in all languages of the Union. This would allow passengers toexplain the situation much more easily to both airlines as well as immigration officers, evenin cases of language barriers.
In the long run, the “Residence Card for Family Members” should have a uniform look nomatter which member state issues it. It should include the words “permits entry into all EUstates for a period of up to three months, when accompanied by or joining an EU familymember”. It should also mention the relevant family member by name, so it will be possibleto travel without carrying marriage certificates or birth certificates, which is currentlynecessary to prove the relevant EU / non-EU relationship.
 
Furthermore, the detail that non-EU family-members passports may not be stamped isvirtually completely unheard of. This prompts me to suggest that, in the long run, EU-entry-clearances for visa-required nationals should have a uniform look throughout, identifyingthe following to avoid ambiguities:
validity periods (timespan and allowed duration)
validity for territory
a stamp/non-stamp-remark 
must the individual be questioned upon entry (where will you stay...)?
Given the chaotic information on different websites throughout, it would be very useful tohave one centrally managed webpage outlining all visa-eventualities, to which embassies,consulates and ministries throughout the EU merely link to. (If not for all of the EU, maybeat least for Schengen)Most importantly my current concern, the scenario where passengers are informed by embassiesthat a visa is “not needed”, while upon arrival entry is sometimes denied, owing to the ambiguityand lack of knowledge of the very same law, is totally unacceptable.Another problem the directive creates is the question what “joining an EU-family member” means?2004/38/EC states this should be possible, but does not clarify any details. How should this behandled in practice? How should airline-staff check that “joining the EU citizen” is indeed the purpose of the journey? How should this be proven to immigration officers on arrival?At present some countries ask for a letter by the EU citizen, but most countries do not mention thisat all. This is another situation where people may fall into a limbo, depriving them of the simpleright to freely travel around the Union.I invite you to look at the following website, which discusses problems around this topic.http://www.immigrationboards.com/viewtopic.php?t=30020The very diverse answers of embassies to the same question, as well as their very differentinformation around the same topic on their websites, can be easily experienced here.I would appreciate your concern and attention to help resolving the problem that is beingexperienced by EU citizens travelling inside or to the EU with their family members on a daily basis.Regards from Ireland, Christian

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