Moving to Belgium as an EU citizen

The study 'Moving to Belgium as an EU citizen' points out a number of shortcomings in the registration formalities of EU citizens in the municipality. It contains recommendations to guarantee the free movement of EU workers, self-employed persons and jobseekers and their families. The researchers believe that a revision of the registration formalities appears necessary and opportune with the new migration code in prospect. They also regret that although the citizenship directive has generally been transposed into Belgian law, there are still problems that should be addressed. 

The study results show that the registration process sometimes works differently in different municipalities and regions. As a result, applicants have to submit different documents depending on where they are applying to register. The study also showed that not all municipalities surveyed allow all categories of family members of EU citizens to register. The researchers therefore recommend that the GEMCOM instructions (instructions the Immigration Office gives to the municipalities) be adapted so that they are uniform and fully compliant with current legislation and case law. Making these instructions public would also contribute to transparency and legal certainty. Training for administrative staff in the registration of family members of EU citizens is a must.

It was also found that the municipalities do not disseminate enough information about the registration process on their websites. The researchers recommend the development of a central website with complete and accurate information on the registration procedure for EU citizens and their family members in several languages. The website of the Immigration Office could serve this purpose. The study also showed that municipalities want more support from the Immigration Office. It is recommended to invest in digital communication between the municipalities and the Immigration Office to facilitate such exchange.

Myria was appointed as the monitoring body for Directive 2014/54. This directive contains measures to facilitate the exercise of the rights granted to workers in the context of the free movement of workers. One of the tasks as a monitoring body is to carry out or commission independent research and analysis. In this context, Myria commissioned this study. The study was realised by a consortium consisting of Fragomen, the University of Kent and UGent.

The research team consisted of Roos-Marie van den Bogaard (University of Kent / UGent), Jo Antoons, Pauline Chomel, Ana Correia Horta, Andreia Ghimis and Wout Van Doren (Fragomen), Harm Schepel and Anthony Valcke (the University of Kent) and Ellen Desmet (UGent).