The Free Movement of Persons Directive 2004/38 sets out the rights of EA nationals and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of an EA member state.
One of the categories of a qualified person under the Regulations are those who are self-sufficient persons. A self-sufficient person is defined as a person who has enough financial resources not to become a burden on the state and also has comprehensive sickness insurance cover in the United Kingdom.
Self sufficiency of Resources
The definition of sufficiency of resources is the level which will exceed the maximum level of social assistance to which a British citizen and his or her family will be entitled to. The origin of the resources can either be through a trust fund or the employment of a spouse or any other family member. The problem is not so much with the sources of income, but more with the issue of comprehensive sickness insurance.
Daily we are encountering EU citizens who would like to apply for a residence card or for permanent residence but cannot meet the requirements of self-sufficiency and comprehensive sickness insurance. We know that EA citizens and their family members are allowed to use the NHS, but the NHS does not count as comprehensive sickness insurance. The matter is not straightforward. Members of the European Parliament and the EU Commission are thought to be looking into the question as to whether or not EU nationals need sickness protection over and above the one offered by the NHS. Jean Lambert MPE tabled a question to the Commission and the Commission have started infringement proceedings against the UK back in 2012, but to date there has been no news about this case. We know that the case is ongoing but we do not know what the outcome will be. The Commission is still assessing the case but in the meantime it is advisable for EU nationals who wish to be in the UK as self-sufficient to get comprehensive sickness insurance.
In a written Parliamentary answer the Government stated that self-sufficient or studying EU citizens without comprehensive sickness insurance are now not lawfully resident in the UK and therefore might be liable to removal, but it is a long standing Home Office practice not to seek the removal of these individuals because it is relatively straight forward to rectify their position.
In other words those without comprehensive sickness insurance are expected to rectify the situation by getting insurance.