BRUSSELS, May 2 (Reuters) At least 20 European Union countries risk being dragged to court for failing to grant new residency rights to citizens of other EU nations, the bloc's justice chief said today.
According to new EU legislation that came into force on Sunday, unmarried or same-sex partners of EU citizens should be able to accompany their partner more easily when he or she moves to live in another EU country.
EU citizens will no longer require residence permits in other EU states, though they will still be asked to prove they work or have sufficient resources not to depend on the country's social security.
''I would be ready to start (court) procedures,'' Justice Commissioner Franco Frattini told a news conference, adding that citizens of the 25-nation bloc also had the right to take an EU country to court if it failed to apply the rules.
Only Austria, Slovenia and Slovakia have introduced the new EU rules in their own legislation, whereas Denmark and Britain have announced measures to do so, Frattini said. All other EU countries would probably be late, he added.
Under the new rules, EU citizens and their families will also get the unconditional right of residence in an EU state if they have been resident there for at least five years.
After those five years, the country where they lived would no longer be able to require that they had sufficient resources.
The legislation does not give the right to work in another EU country. Only seven of the 15 ''old'' EU countries have fully opened their labour markets to the citizens of the 10 mostly former communist states that joined the bloc in May 2004.
REUTERS CH ND2016