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Action plan for free movement of workers



To improve the conditions for free movement of workers within a European labour market.


Action plan for free movement of workers.


I. The challenges

Starting point

The historically low level of geographical mobility among workers within the European Union (see the Commission's report on Employment in Europe 1997) is expected to rise markedly over the next 10 to 20 years.

The factors which may boost occupational mobility and help to create a European labour market are:

  • strengthening of the single market through achievement of economic and monetary union;
  • increased demand by employers for workers from other Member States, given the growing importance of intra-Community trade;
  • greater number of women on the labour market, with mobility often affecting two people with separate careers;
  • globalisation of technological skills, which tend to be universal in application.

New prospects

The new conditions for free movement will be of particular importance for:

  • young people: the new generation, being better trained and having a wider range of linguistic skills and experience of travelling in Europe, will be more suited to geographical mobility;
  • workers with professional experience: they will move around more, while unskilled workers will be less in demand.

II. An action plan

Improving and adapting legal texts

The creation of a single employment market at European level requires adaptation of the rules. Proposals to be put forward by the Commission in 1998 will focus on:

  • right of residence for job-seekers;
  • bringing families together;
  • equal treatment as regards social and tax advantages;
  • social integration of the worker's family;
  • frontier workers;
  • social security;
  • third-country nationals;
  • supplementary pensions;
  • education and training.

Making the labour market more transparent

Job vacancies and applications at European level need to be matched appropriately. Key measures designed to foster the creation of a European employment market are:

  • promotion of Internet-based services reflecting, at European level, the activities of the national public employment services;
  • strengthening of cooperation between national public employment services;
  • fostering of cross-border cooperation through the EURES (European Employment Services) network.

Developing national authorities' cooperation and reinforcing their responsibilities

The participation of national authorities is essential for effective freedom of movement for workers. The aspects to be considered are:

  • upgrading of administrative coordination and information mechanisms for individuals and companies;
  • creation of specific contact points for workers aimed at resolving the more pressing problems (access to employment, social security);
  • cooperation with the social partners, involving also the tripartite advisory committees (Commission, trade unions and employers' organisations).

Improving knowledge and visibility of the right to free movement

The Commission will draw attention to freedom of movement and the potential of a European labour market through its existing information activities.

Devising innovative projects

Within the framework of the European Social Fund (ESF), the Commission will, in 1998, finance projects designed to encourage labour mobility.


Not applicable.

5) DATE OF ENTRY INTO FORCE (if different from the above)


Commission Communication COM(97) 586 final
Not published in the Official Journal



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