Free advice, guidance and dispute resolution – making your move in Europe easier

23.09.2008

So, like thousands of people across the EU, you’ve decided to benefit from your European citizenship and from the EU’s single market and seek work, business or retirement abroad. Where to start, and how to plan? That’s where a whole range of free European services come in. There are many services in place designed to help you get all the information you need to make a move abroad within Europe as smooth as possible. Here’s a quick overview of some good places to start, complete with links to their website. These contain full contact details of advisers waiting to guide you through any questions you may have.

A first port of call should always be the EURES website. Here you can find lots of helpful information, particularly in the Living and Working section, regarding labour market information, living and working conditions and also free movement regulations. There are over 700 EURES Advisers working as a network throughout Europe to help you with your job search, to help employers find what they need and to answer your enquiries. As well as these advisers, the EURES website provides you with a wealth of connections and links to government and social partner sites, from local employment bureaus to tax and customs offices.

Another useful service is the Europe Direct service, which can give you information about EU matters in all EU languages, answer EU policy queries, and provide advice on practical issues you may have come up against as well as contact details for relevant organisations. Alongside Europe Direct, the Your Europe site also offers both individuals and businesses practical information, guides and country-specific factsheets with information on their rights and opportunities in the EU

If you need help on specific problems then worry not – there are several services which exist to cater for your needs. When you have a specific problem or query for which you need personalised advice you should head to the Citizens Signpost Service. This is a Europe-wide service that provides guidance and practical advice to citizens regarding specific problems they may encounter. Need to know how to exercise your right of residence in another EU country? How you can benefit from your pension rights when living in another EU country? What to do in order to benefit from social security cover while in another EU country? How you can sort out your car registration and driving licence? The list is endless – and the CSS is here to help.

There are two ways to reach the Citizens Signpost Service – by phone via the free EUROPE DIRECT phone number or via the web form. In this case, all you need to do is enter your personal details and explain your problems on the electronic form, and a legal expert from a team of experts, operating in all official languages of the EU, will answer your question within three working days. You will be advised on your rights as a EU citizen and, where appropriate, you may also be directed or “signposted” to another body (at local, national or European level) more able to solve your particular problem.

One place you may be ‘signposted’ to is SOLVIT, an online problem-solving network. EU/EEA citizens have many fundamental rights and services like SOLVIT exist to help inform citizens of these rights. Through Solvit, EU Member States work together to solve disputes should internal market law be misapplied. As an alternative dispute resolution mechanism, SOLVIT works much more quickly than making a formal complaint – and it is completely free of charge. Eligible issues include, for example, the recognition of professional qualifications, social security rights, the free movement of capital and the establishment of businesses. If you run into administrative obstacles with anything like this, just contact SOLVIT for free assistance in getting things solved in your own language.

You can find a SOLVIT centre in every EU Member State (as well as in Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein). They are part of the national administration and are committed to providing real solutions to problems within ten weeks. You can reach your local SOLVIT Centre by telephone, fax or e-mail during office hours and you will get a prompt reply to your queries. If your case cannot be solved by the network, the local SOLVIT Centre will try to help you find another way to deal with your problem.

These aren’t the only organisations out there that spend every day assisting EU citizens – there are many more, covering all sorts of issues. These have been set up to help YOU – so don’t hesitate to get in touch to find out exactly who can help you with your precise query.

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