European Year of Workers' Mobility (2006)
1. The European Commission has designated 2006 as the European Year of Workers' Mobility. It will offer the various target audiences concerned a broad platform for exchange and discussion on the challenges of mobility in the context of the Lisbon strategy.
2. The Commission is encouraging all players to develop new initiatives in order to strengthen the impact of goegraphical and occupational mobility in the forward management of skills and the adaptability of European workers to the structural and economic changes that are affecting the continent.
3. The objectives of the European Year are threefold:
- to make all involved aware of the rights of workers to free movement, to the opportunities which exist and to the instruments which have been introduced to promote freedom of mobility (EURES, in particular);
- to promote the exchange of good practices on mobility;
- to expand the knowledge base (studies and surveys) on mobility flows in Europe, the obstacles to workers' mobility and the motives that lead workers to undertake a period of mobility in another Member State.
4. The European Year was officially launched in Brussels on 20-21 February 2006. The conference entitled "Workers'mobility: a right, an option, an opportunity?" focused on the issues of the impact of globalisation on the European labour market, the benefits of temporary mobility and greater transparency across borders for qualifications. The conference was also the occasion for the launch of the new EURES platform, which provides citizens with direct access to more than a million job offers in 28 countries (European Economic Area and Switzerland). EURES is a network with a portal that is consulted each month by more than 500 000 people.
5. This conference will be followed by a series of events throughout the year:
- (this took place at the start of April) a conference of the social partners (September 2006);
- the first European Job Mart, to be organised simultaneously in nearly 100 European cities on 29-30 September 2006;
- a week intended for lawyers (autumn 2006);
- a closing conference in Lille (December 2006).
6. Several studies on the impact of mobility and projects to improve statistical data on the subject are also planned. A European prize will be awarded to the organisation that has made the greatest contribution to worker mobility.
7. The overall budget of EUR 10 million includes 4 million for awareness projects and an additional 2 million for pilot actions.
8. Worker mobility, in both geographic and occupational terms, has been specifically pinpointed as one of the instruments for helping to implement the revised Lisbon objectives. Freedom of movement for workers is a right and, as such, is one of the founding principles recognised by the Treaty.
9. The role of mobility has also been stressed in the employment guidelines (2005-2008) as a factor contributing to the strengthening of the infrastructure of labour markets in Europe and as an instrument for more effectively anticipating the effects of economic restructuring.
10. The current figures show that very few Europeans work abroad. The percentage of Europeans residing in an EU country other than their country of origin has remained stable at around 1.5% over the last 30 years. As for job mobility, in nine countries of the European Union 40% of workers have been in the same job for more than 10 years.
11. The European Union has of course made major efforts to create an environment conducive to worker mobility:
- an action plan on skills and mobility was launched in 2002 and expired at the end of 2005;
- a European health insurance card, launched in 13 Member States in June 2004, was expected to be distributed in the other Member States and the EFTA countries at the start of 2006;
- the coordination of social security schemes was speeded up following the adoption of Regulation 883/04;
- a proposal for a Directive on the portability of pension rights in the case of mobility for occupational reasons was adopted in October 2005.
12. The European Year will make it possible to identify new policy orientations to encourage mobility and remove barriers.
Further information may be found on the European Year of Workers' Mobility website.