The UK became a member of the European Community on the 1st January 1973. European Community Law has continued to develop throughout the years to give rights to European nationals of the member states of the European Economic Area and their dependants to enter and remain in the UK without restrictions. The European Economic Area (EEA) was created between the European nationals and the former European Free Trade Association countries under the EC Treaty to give their nationals free movement rights within the area.
The member states of the EU are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the UK.
The member states of the EEA who are not members of the EU are Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein. Switzerland has entered into an Agreement with the European Community to extend full freedom of movement rights and, therefore, Swiss nationals are treated as if they were EEA nationals.
Please note that there is a transitional period for the new member states joining on the 1st May 2004 and the 1st January 2007, and nationals from those new member states, do not enjoy the complete freedom of movement during this transitional period. Restrictions have been imposed on the freedom of movement and assessed on the labour market for those new member states. The new member states that joined the EU in 2004 are Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovak Republic and Slovenia (the A8 nationals) and, in 2007, Romania and Bulgaria (the A2 nationals).