Current events

10 things you should know before moving to another EU country

  Foto: Sara Kurfe / Unsplash (CC)

Foto: Sara Kurfe / Unsplash (CC)

Anna Torres Garrote
Barcelona's European Commission representation and the UOC present the first university online seminar on European citizenship

According to Idescat, as of this year there are 316,599 Catalan people living abroad. France has become home to most of them (42,952), followed by Argentina (30,699) and finally by Germany (25,263). This total figure has doubled in comparison with what it was ten years ago. If we look at the Erasmus programme, Spain's universities receive the most students from the European Union, and has the third highest numbers in terms of students heading abroad to other universities in the EU. The current climate of increasing mobility, whether that be for studies or work, has inspired the UOC to devise the first university online seminar on European citizenship. Their goal is to provide all expats and study-abroad students, and those that are considering the move, with advice and information about their rights and responsibilities as European citizens.

Teresa Romeu, member of the UOC's Faculty of Psychology and Education Sciences and responsible for the seminar on European citizenship in the digital age, and course instructor Cristina Fuertes outline ten things we should know before leaving our home turf to go and work or study another European country.

  1. Do I need a passport?

It is not necessary to present your personal identity card or passport whilst within the Schengen Area. However, in countries that are outside of this Area (Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland, Romania and the United Kingdom), you will need to present a valid passport or identity document.

  1. Can euros be used everywhere?

Not all European Union countries use euros as their currency. There are currently 19 countries that use euros, which are Germany, Austria, Belgium, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain, Estonia, Finland, France (except the Pacific islands that use CFP francs), Greece, Ireland, Italy (except in Campione d'Italia where they use Swiss francs), Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands (except for the Netherlands Antilles who use the Netherlands Antilles guilder and Aruba who use the Aruban florin), Portugal and Cyprus. All other European countries use their own currency.

  1. What kind of paperwork might I have to do if I want to live in another EU country?

These procedures will vary depending on the length of your stay, whether you are travelling alone or with your family, and the reason for your move (work, study or otherwise). The EU has established regulations for each particular circumstance.

  1. What documentation will I need when it comes to studying in a European Union country?

As a university student and citizen of the EU, you have the right to study at a university in any member country under the same conditions as those who were born there. However, the admission criteria do vary significantly depending on which country you are visiting and the university in question. It might therefore be useful to prepare a European CV and a copy of your passport in the local language.

  1. Are there any opportunities to apply for study grants?

The Erasmus+ programme allows university students to study part of their programme or complete work experience in another country. With Erasmus+, you won't need to pay enrolment or course fees to your host university as the programme you are taking abroad is considered an integral part of your degree, and will receive a grant from the EU to cover travel and subsistence costs.

  1. What about if I travel with my children?

As citizens of the EU, children also have the right to receive education in any EU country under the same conditions as those born there.

  1. What happens if I need to see a doctor?

Across the EU, the country responsible for your social security and health cover depends on your financial situation and place of residence, not on your nationality. It is important to find out which country's social security system you are covered by. In any case, the individual European Health Insurance Card gives the holder the right to receive the necessary medical healthcare during a temporary stay in any EU member country, or any country that forms part of the European Economic Area (Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway) and Switzerland, depending on the nature of the provisions and the expected length of stay.

  1. What about working in another European Union country?

All EU citizens have the right to work in any other EU country without a work permit, whether as an employee or freelancer. An exception is made for Croatian nationals who are subject to transitional arrangements.

  1. What can the EU offer in terms of guaranteeing citizens' voices are heard?

All EU citizens have the right to vote and stand as a candidate in both local and EU Parliament elections in the EU country they live in. It is also possible to help shape European policies through the European Citizen Initiative, which enables citizens to join forces regarding issues close to their heart. Thanks to this initiative, anyone can suggest certain legal changes to areas where the European Commission has the power to propose legislation. These petitions must be signed by at least one million citizens from at least a quarter of EU member countries (which is currently equivalent to seven countries).

Every citizen has the right to submit petitions to European Parliament, either due to personal matters or complaints, or regarding issues of public interest. Any complaints regarding poor management by EU institutions or bodies should be addressed to the European Ombudsman.

  1. What about if I want to launch an online company in the EU?

Society's digital transformation and internationalization have contributed to the blurring of our borders, and as such, new forms of residency and citizenship that are adapted to this digital and global environment are still an ambiguous concept. In response to this changing context, at the end of 2014, Estonia launched its e-Residency. This residency is a legal status that anyone from any country can apply for and which considers the beneficiary a resident in Estonia. So, armed with an identification document and electronic certificate, e-Residents can access all online procedures offered in Estonia, including the ability to create a 100% online company, manage bank accounts, sign certificates, pay taxes (European VAT included) and much more. The process is quick, simple, and relatively cheap: all you have to do is fill out an application, submit a cover letter and pay €100. This new programme has attracted talent and new companies to take up residency in Estonia, so much so that they currently have more than 30,000 e-Residents from every country in the world, and their aim is to reach 10 million by 2025. Among these 30,000 e-Residents, there are 326 Spanish citizens, mostly entrepreneurs, who have chosen Estonia as their digital home.


The UOC to launch an online seminar on European citizenship in the digital age

The seminar on European citizenship in the digital age will run online over a six-week period and will kick off on 6 November. Those taking this seminar will be given the tools to understand and grasp everything they need to know about European citizenship. They will be able to look to European institutions and regulations for empowerment, as well as use them as a source of basic and essential information. The seminar forms part of UOC X - Xtended Studies, a branch of the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya that covers education that goes beyond the boundaries of the University.      

It was presented last Thursday, 19 September, at La Pedrera in Barcelona and was attended by the Government of Catalonia's Secretary for Universities and Research, Francesc Xavier Vidal i Grau; director of Barcelona's European Commission Representation, Ferran Tarradellas; the UOC's president, Josep A. Planell; director general of UOC X - Xtended Studies, Ignasi Buyreu, and the person responsible for the seminar and member of the UOC's Faculty of Psychology and Education Sciences, Teresa Romeu

During the presentation, Buyreu explained how the seminar would respond to issues such as digitalization and migration being raised across Europe. Romeu also emphasized the key issues to be covered, such as assimilating civic and cultural values, analysing the complexity of European identity and understanding European citizens' rights and responsibilities. Tarradellas highlighted our lack of knowledge surrounding this topic, especially in terms of his colleague's last point, and thanked the UOC for having opened up the possibility to run this seminar.

UOC President Planell closed the event by commenting upon Europe as an educational reality, given our access to the European Higher Education Area and the Erasmus programme; and Vidal i Grau expressed the need for training programmes on European identity and highlighted the government support the UOC has received for this endeavour.