IT seems as though it was only yesterday when Spain signed its adhesion to the European Community, which in its day led to the royal decree 1099/1986 of May 26, opening a new period in the juridical regulation of entry, stay and work of European community citizens. This date saw the elimination of the very complicated and bureaucratic work and residence permits, which meant expulsion for many European citizens. Nevertheless, although all Spanish legislation has become much more flexible for European community citizens to obtain residency in Spain and the work permit is only a bad memory, the reality is that Spain has not been complying with not only the legal but also the philosophical principles of what a united Europe should be. And so European legislation bases its laws and agreements on a Europe whose subjects, whether or not they work, can move freely within the member states with no other document than the identity card of their own member state. This situation in fact was already untenable and the European community has brought pressure to bear for Spain finally, via the Royal Decree 178/2003 of February 14, to modify the actual status quo and liberalise on all levels the freedom of European community citizens not only to move around the country, which was already a reality, but, and above all, to live there permanently. This resolution, for the first time, specifies in a concrete manner the right of non-Spanish community citizens to accede to any activity, either employed or self employed, under the same conditions as Spaniards (Art 3.2). But in addition to this equivalence in the right to work, said Royal decree regulates for the first time a series of hypotheses for residency for community citizens, without the need of the preceptive residence permit. In this way, nationals of European Union member states or other states which are part of the Agreement on the European Economic Space, who are workers (employed or self employed), students and families of these persons can live in Spain without the need of said residence permit. The Spanish Authorities must inform said citizens that there is no need for this document when it is requested in the corresponding offices, and only in the hypothetical case, that for some reason the interested party insists on obtaining said permit, will a certificate to said purpose be issued. Said Royal decree also gives the right to reside here permanently to community citizens who have carried out an economic activity (employed or self employed) in Spain and at the moment of ceasing in this activity have reached retirement age with the right to pension, providing they have exercised this activity during the 12 preceding months and have lived in Spain for more than three years. Residence in Spain for two years will suffice if the activity is halted because of permanent incapacity. It is clear that this new legislation must be polished with interpretations by the legislators regarding its development and interpretation and I have serious doubts that this law will be easy to apply, but what is clear is that by means of this resolution, the philosophy of a united Europe is a little closer.

*Jaime Lamas, Palma based lawyer, Honorary Vice Consul of Austria in the Balearics.