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C 110 E/40 Official Journal of the European Union EN 8.5.


(2003/C 110 E/040) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2300/02

by Guido Bodrato (PPE-DE) to the Commission
(25 July 2002)

Subject: Free movement and identity documents

In reply to the questions by Mr Speroni and Mr Gobbo of 22 October 2001 (P-2996/01 and P-3010/01 (1))
the Commission confirms that valid identity cards or passports are the only documents recognised by all
Member States when Union citizens leave their own country for a Member State other than the one of
which they are a national. This is perfectly acceptable. The problem, however, according to European
citizens themselves, concerns more specifically the situation of European citizens who settle in a Member
State of which they are not a national and obtain from that State an identity document (residence permit)
under the terms of Directive 68/360/EEC (2) of 15 October 1968. Why should this document not be
considered valid, when the person in question goes to, or passes through, another Member State, to prove
that he or she is a citizen of the European Union and hence enjoys the right to freedom of movement?

The Court of Justice’s ruling of 21 September 1999 in Case C-378/97 (Wijsenbeek) shows that the
Member States retain the right to carry out identity checks to ascertain whether the person being checked
is a citizen of a Member State and therefore has the right to move freely within the territory of the
Member States.

Given that Community law overrides national law, why should an official document issued under a
Community act not be sufficient to prove a person’s identity when that person  a holder of an identity
document issued by the country in which he or she has settled  is temporarily in another Member State
on holiday or for family reasons? Is there not a contradiction between the right to freedom of movement
and the refusal to recognise the validity of a document issued by virtue of an act which confirms that right
to freedom of movement?

(1) OJ C 115 E, 16.5.2002, p. 211.

(2) OJ L 257, 19.10.1968, p. 13.

Answer given by Mr Vitorino on behalf of the Commission

(23 September 2002)

All citizens with the nationality of one of the Member States are entitled to move and settle freely within
the territory of the EU Member States. The identity card or passport required to exercise this right serves
primarily to confirm the citizen’s status as a citizen of the Union.

Each Member State determines the conditions under which nationality is granted and issues its own
citizens with an identity document indicating their nationality: this may be a valid identity card or

The purpose of the residence permit, issued to Union citizens residing in another Member State in
accordance with the provisions of Community law, is not to confirm the holder’s nationality, but to certify
that he or she has the right of residence in the host Member State. The residence permit is issued on the
basis of an identity card or passport, these being the only documents which confirm the holder’s
nationality and thereby the fact that he or she enjoys the rights conferred by the provisions of the EC
Treaty and the rules of secondary legislation.

(2003/C 110 E/041) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2301/02

by Guido Bodrato (PPE-DE) to the Commission
(25 July 2002)

Subject: Free movement and residence permit

Under Directive 68/360/EEC (1) of 15 October 1968, European citizens living in a Member State of which
they are not a national receive an identity or identification document known as a ‘Residence Permit for a
National of a Member State of the EEC’.