Solving problems accessing rights in other EU Member States
As a citizen of the European Union (EU) you can go to another EU country to live, study, work or retire. Your rights in these areas are contained in the Internal Market law of the EU. They may be subject to certain conditions and limits. Member states of the EU/EEA are mainly responsible for implementing these rules and properly applying them. Occasionally, citizens and businesses of EU/EEA member states who move and conduct business between member states face problems from the possible misapplication of Internal Market law by member states. You may have the right to appeal these administrative decisions. Here we explain how to appeal these decisions through the SOLVIT service and the steps you need to take if you wish to make an appeal.
The SOLVIT service is an EU/EEA service that attempts to resolve problems faced by citizens and businesses caused by the misapplication of Internal Market law without the need for legal action. SOLVIT is a free, confidential service that is available to anyone throughout the EU who feels they have not been able to avail of their Internal Market rights because the administration in another member state is misapplying Internal Market law.
In order to bring an issue to SOLVIT you must be an EU/EEA citizen. Your complaint must be in relation to the misapplication of Internal Market law by an EU/EEA member state. (See below for a list of websites and organisations where you can check what your Internal Market rights are). It is important to be aware that the SOLVIT service cannot help in certain cases (see ‘Cases where SOLVIT cannot help’ below). If, however, SOLVIT agrees to take your case, it will confirm within 1 week that it will act on your behalf. The normal timeframe for resolution of appeals is 10 weeks, however this may be extended in certain circumstances.
What sort of areas can SOLVIT help with?
- Voting rights
- Residence Permits
- Protection of Personal Data
- Employment Rights
- Recognition of Professional Qualifications: (i.e., doctors, nurses, engineers, etc.)
- Social Security
- Border Controls
- Motor Vehicle Registration
- Access to Education
Cases where SOLVIT cannot help
- Instances where legal proceedings are already under way
- Where the problem relates to a legal obstacle, e.g. where the problem concerns an obstacle that results from a legal provision of national law. In this situation, it is unlikely that an informal system such as SOLVIT would be able to provide redress
- Where deadlines under national law need to be respected
- Where the problem is a business-to-business or business-to-consumer one. In the event of a Business-to-Consumer issue, you need to contact your nearest European Consumer Centre. In the event of a Business-to-Business issue, you will need to seek redress through the Courts.
SOLVIT works as part of the national Government of each member state, so there is a network of SOLVIT centres through the EU.
If you are not certain of your rights (i.e., whether you have a valid complaint), you may like to get in touch with the following before referring the matter to SOLVIT.
Europe Direct provides a free telephone and e-mail service and acts as a first point of contact for information about the EU. It offers information on a wide range of subjects including the rights of EU citizens. It can also refer users to the best source of advice at EU, national, regional and local levels.
Your Europe Advice: Provides expert legal advice on the rights of citizens in the EU
There is also advice for the business community in the EU.
Enterprise Europe Network: Provides information, advice and assistance to Small Business Enterprises in the EU
The European Commission Representation in Ireland can give free legal advice on your single market rights.
You can read more about the process of making an appeal under ‘How to apply’ below.
Outcomes of using the SOLVIT service
Proposed solutions through the SOLVIT service are non-binding on the person making the complaint. If the applicant is unhappy with the proposed solution, or if the problem goes unresolved, more formal proceedings (i.e., legal proceedings at national or Community level) can be initiated.
It is also important to note, that SOLVIT does not provide advocacy services on behalf of citizens or businesses in the EU. They do not have any role in influencing policy, administration, etc. However, the European Commission closely monitor each SOLVIT centre, checking the type, volume and nature of appeals and to ensure that caseloads are progressing.
This is a free service – there is no charge for making an appeal to the service.
How to apply
You should submit your complaint to the SOLVIT service online. You should include as much detail as possible. Your local SOLVIT Centre (known as the "Home" SOLVIT Centre) will contact you within 1 week. If you have a valid cause for complaint, your local SOLVIT Centre will forward it to the SOLVIT Centre in the other member state where the problem has occurred (known as the "Lead" SOLVIT Centre).
The two SOLVIT Centres will liaise with each other during the period of investigation and your Home SOLVIT Centre will keep you informed of progress, and the proposed solution.