Brussels, 4 February 2014
Free Movement: European Commission invites Mayors to discuss challenges and exchange best practices
Over 100 mayors and representatives of local authorities from around Europe will come together in Brussels on 11 February to discuss current challenges and opportunities around the free movement of citizens in the European Union. The Conference of Mayors, organised jointly by the European Commission and Committee of the Regions, aims to help local authorities pool ideas and share best practices in implementing free movement rules. The mayors will also address social inclusion challenges arising at local level which are related to free movement. The meeting is one of the five actions presented by the European Commission on 25 November 2013 to strengthen the right to free movement in the EU, while helping Member States to reap the positive benefits it brings (IP/13/1151).The event is open to press: journalists wishing to attend can either register on the website or should contact Joshua.SALSBY@ec.europa.eu.
"The right to free movement is a fundamental right and it goes to the heart of EU citizenship. More than two thirds of Europeans say that free movement is beneficial for their country. We have to strengthen and safeguard it," said Vice-President Viviane Reding, the EU's Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship. “Local authorities are on the frontline when implementing free movement rules and making them work. This conference will be an opportunity for us to listen to local representatives, find out what challenges they are facing on the ground and discuss how best to get EU funding for social integration purposes where it needs to go."
László Andor, EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, added: "There is strong evidence that mobility benefits the workers themselves, the host country and the home country. People go to where the jobs are. However, in the case of large and sudden arrivals of citizens from other EU Member States, services such as education and healthcare in certain cities can come under pressure. We need to work together to address these specific challenges rather than restricting free movement. Member States are currently planning how they will spend their European Social Fund allocations over the next seven years. Bearing in mind that at least 20% of the funds will have to be devoted to social inclusion and to fight poverty, we stand ready to help and advise Member States to use these funds in the best possible way."
At the end of 2013, the Commission presented five actions to make a difference on free movement of people, to benefit citizens, growth and employment in the EU.
One of the five actions addresses the needs of local authorities, including helping them to share best practices across Europe in implementing free movement rules and in addressing related social inclusion challenges. The joint conference for mayors will bring together mayors and representatives of local authorities to discuss the impact of intra-EU mobility at local level.
This is the second of the five actions being completed, following the publication on 13 January 2014 of a practical guide on the 'habitual residence test' used in EU rules on social security coordination (see IP/14/13). The strict criteria of this test ensure that citizens who are not working may only have access to social security in another Member State once they have genuinely moved their centre of interest to that State (for example their family is there).
The Commission has also carried out a study of the impact of free movement of citizens at local level, to be presented and released on 11 February at the conference. The study examines the situation in six EU cities (Barcelona, Dublin, Hamburg, Lille, Prague and Turin) and identifies best practice examples from each city of dealing with potential challenges of free movement.
With over 14 million EU citizens resident in another Member State, free movement – or the ability to live, work and study anywhere in the Union – is the EU right most cherished by Europeans. EU workers have been benefitting from this right since the dawn of the European Union, with the principle enshrined in the first European Treaty of Rome in 1957 (see MEMO/13/1041).
Free movement of citizens is also an integral component of the Single Market and a central element of its success: it stimulates economic growth by enabling people to travel, shop and work across borders and by allowing companies to recruit from a larger talent pool. Labour mobility between Member States contributes to addressing skills and jobs mismatches against a background of significant imbalances in EU labour markets and an ageing population. Despite the economic crisis, today around 2 million vacancies remain unfilled in the EU.
Finally, EU free movement rules contain a series of safeguards that allow Member States to prevent abuses.
To address concerns in some EU Member States about the implementation of free movement rules on the ground, the Commission set out five actions to help national and local authorities to:
The conference of mayors will take place on 11 February from 09.00-18.00 at the Committee of the Regions, Room JDE 52, Rue Belliard/Belliardstraat 99-101, 1040 Brussels. Full details are available on the event page and in the draft programme in annex.
For more information
Frequently Asked questions - Free Movement explained:
European Commission – Free movement
Homepage of Vice-President Viviane Reding, EU Justice Commissioner:
Follow the Vice-President on Twitter:@VivianeRedingEU
Follow EU Justice on Twitter: @EU_Justice
ANNEX: DRAFT AGENDA
9:30: OPENING WORDS
10 :00 - 10:40: INFORMATION SESSION: EU POLICIES ON FREE MOVEMENT AND INCLUSION FOR THE LOCAL LEVEL
11:00 - 12:45: PANEL I: EXPERIENCES OF CITIES: IMPLEMENTING LOCAL POLICIES ON FREE MOVEMENT AND INCLUSION
Chair: Agnieszka KUDLINSKA, Director for Consultative Work at the Committee of the Regions
11:00-11:45 Panel interventions
11:45-12:45 General discussion
12:45 Press conference in Committee of the Regions, room JDE53
14:15 - 15:45: PANEL II: IMPLEMENTING LOCAL POLICIES ON FREE MOVEMENT AND INCLUSION
Chair: Chiara ADAMO, European Commission, DG Justice, Head of Unit for Union Citizenship and Free Movement
14:15-15:00 Panel interventions
• Ovidiu PORTARIUC, Mayor of Botosani Municipality, Romania
15:00-16:00 General discussion
16:15 - 17:45: PANEL III: IMPLEMENTING LOCAL POLICIES ON FREE MOVEMENT AND INCLUSION
Chair: Lieve FRANSEN, Director European Commission, DG EMPLOYMENT Europe2020: Social policies
16:00-16:45 Panel interventions
16:45-17:45 General discussion
17:45: CONCLUDING SPEECHES
17:45: CONCLUDING SPEECHES