Brussels, 10 December 2007
The European Commission today presented a new action plan to promote job mobility across Europe by tackling the remaining obstacles faced by people seeking to work in another EU country. It puts forward a new integrated approach and lists 15 concrete actions for the period 2007-2010 involving national, regional and local – as well as European – authorities.
"Worker mobility is both a fundamental right for EU citizens and a key instrument for developing a European labour market. It helps to better match workers with jobs, overcoming bottlenecks in the labour market and allowing more people to find better jobs," declared Vladimír Špidla, EU Commissioner for Employment. “But we need more cooperation among Member States and stakeholders to make sure workers can fully benefit from mobility."
The enlargement of the EU in 2004 and 2007 increased both the opportunities for workers to find a job, and for employers to find workers. Most of the EU-15 Member States have lifted or eased restrictions they applied for citizens from eight of the Member States which joined the EU in 2004, creating a large potential labour force to cope with the challenges of ageing and globalisation.
However, worker mobility in the EU remains relatively low – around 2%
of working-age citizens from one of the 27 EU Member States currently live and
work in another Member State – despite recent increases. Aside from an
uncertainty over the advantages of being mobile, individuals still face a number
of hurdles to mobility. These can include legal and administrative obstacles,
cost and availability of housing, employment of spouses and partners,
portability of pensions, linguistic barriers and recognition of qualifications
in other Member States.
The action plan aims to help job seekers and their families, who will have improved access to more and better jobs, as well as employers, who should be able to better overcome shortages and bottlenecks for suitable workers. Meanwhile, national, regional and local authorities should benefit from better coordination and simplified administration of social security and pensions while receiving additional support for mobility initiatives. In addition to EURES, around EUR 2 million of funding for innovative mobility projects will be made available under the EU's PROGRESS programme up until 2013.
The Commission will also pay particular attention to labour mobility to meet its commitments and obligations resulting from the 2003 and 2005 Accession Treaties.
According to Eurobarometer surveys on geographical and labour mobility of citizens, the two biggest obstacles to moving to another European country are lack of language skills (58% of respondents) and finding a post (29%). Statistics also show new trends in mobility patterns: a clear majority of young workers – over 70% – are now aware that their career will require some form of mobility. Europeans also recognise the importance of mobility. 46% think that it is good for individuals and the job market, 40% believe that it is good for the economy and 57% say that it is positive for European integration.
Today's initiative follows the 2002 Action Plan for Skills and Mobility and the 2006 European Year of Workers' Mobility, which launched an annual Europe-wide job fair and reinforced the EURES job mobility portal.
The Commission's recent initiative to offer 50 young Europeans a first job abroad has in the meantime attracted more than 8,000 applications. The winners will be announced early 2008 and a celebration will be organised for them in Paris in October.