As far as I know, the European Union is

a political and economic union of 28 member states that are located primarily in Europe. The EU has developed an internal single market through a standardised system of laws that apply in all member states in those matters, and only those matters, where members have agreed to act as one. EU policies aim to ensure the free movement of people, goods, services and capital within the internal market

European Union

Moreover, according to this, Citizenship of the European Union

European Union citizens have the right to free movement, settlement and employment across the EU.

However, certain European Union countries such as Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia have opposed immigration and rejected asylum for refugees, and also the European Union through the European commission was trying to impose mandatory quotas of refugees for all of the countries.

My question is, if supposedly the European Union is a political union where its policies guarantee the free movement of people, how do countries such as Hungary, Poland , etc do to stop the flow of refugees to their own countries, and also, how is that the European commission have to treat this issue as a particular issue, if supposedly the foundation policies of the European Union itself guarantee this?

  • I am not sure I understand your last question: the EU Commission only ever gets involved in things that are “guaranteed” by EU policy.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Jun 24, 2019 at 20:57
  • 2
    How do you imagine "free movement of people" would apply to asylum seekers? What is it about the current system that you find incompatible with the EU aim of free movement of people?
    – phoog
    Commented Jun 25, 2019 at 1:33
  • 1
    There is no "flow of refugees" to east european countries. Commented Jun 25, 2019 at 9:39

2 Answers 2


”Free movement” in the EU primarily applies inside the EU, i.e. it regulates relationships between EU countries. Regarding the free movement of people, it means that it applies to EU citizens themselves (and only incidentally to their family or to long-term residents). There are EU rules pertaining to third-country nationals but they have always been much more limited in scope. So EU member states remain firmly in charge of their immigration policy in general and never intended to transfer that competence to the EU level.

It's true however that there are more specific rules around asylum for various technical reasons but the EU Commission is extremely cautious in using its enforcement powers in this area. Hungary or Poland are far from the only countries breaking some of the rules and nobody is keen on having the Commission poke its nose in this politically burning topic.

  • Worth noting as well that it's usually stated as the "free movement of workers", so anyone who's not "economically active" can be expelled from an EU country after a period of time.
    – bobsburner
    Commented Oct 24, 2019 at 16:09
  • @bobsburner Yes, that's a good point. Technically, it was originally free movement for workers and was extended later to include non-economically active people but it's far from absolute. Specifically, non-workers must have health insurance and should not be "a burden on the social assistance system" of the country. More details here
    – Relaxed
    Commented Nov 4, 2019 at 9:23
  • I meant economically active in a sense as broad as that. I don't think people with refugee status in an EU country typically count. (aside from just not being citizens) No idea how to turn that into a suggestion for a better answer though.
    – bobsburner
    Commented Nov 4, 2019 at 9:36

Before they have received asylum, people aren't citizens of the European Union and don't have the right to freedom of movement.

After they have received asylum in a different country, few would want to go to the Eastern European countries that you mention. Those countries generally have people emigrating to the rest of Europe to find jobs. But once they qualify for the right of freedom of movement, they could do so. They simply don't choose to do so.

The hard part is getting accepted into the European Union. Once they've achieved that, they will generally prefer countries like Germany, where jobs are more plentiful and higher paying.

  • 6
    Even after they have received asylum (from an EU country), those who have been granted asylum aren't citizens of the EU. They are not free to settle in other EU countries until they do become EU citizens, which generally requires several years of residence, or, with slightly more restrictions, until they become permanent residents (of an EU country other than the UK, Ireland, or Denmark), which requires five years of residence, and only allows them to resettle in another EU country other than the UK, Ireland, or Denmark.
    – phoog
    Commented Jun 25, 2019 at 1:30

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