The conflict between strict UK immigration legislation and EU law has resulted in a negative impact on freedom of movement, research has claimed.
Conducted by a team from the Universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh, the study has argued that the application of EU law by UK authorities is in stark contrast to the way in which the law is used by the European Court of Justice and the European Commission.
Professor Jo Shaw, from the University of Edinburgh's School of Law and lead author of the report said: "We started our work with a broad sense that something might be amiss with the application of EU law in the UK. Our detailed work has highlighted the area where there are tensions, for example, regarding family members.
"This core aspect of EU law needs further work to ensure that its benefits are felt by the UK and EU citizens."
The study focused on the application of the EU laws by the UK Border Agency (UKBA) and the Home Office in particular. It accused the UKBA of not fully understanding the EU laws that apply in issues concerning UK immigration and suggested that British courts and tribunals were also unaware of the nuances of the European regulations.
To tackle the problem, the researchers proposed introducing a citizen 'champion' to guide the implementation of EU law in relation to freedom of movement. A link between the two legal systems should also be established to ensure that both sets of legal requirements are met.
The researchers concluded that the tensions exist due to the different approaches of the two legal systems. EU free movement law is rights-based, while UK immigration law is permissions-based, the study stated.