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European Commission

Press release

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.

Background

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:

  1. Fight marriages of convenience: The Commission is helping national authorities implement EU rules which allow them to fight potential abuses of the right to free movement by preparing a Handbook on addressing marriages of convenience.

  2. Apply EU social security coordination rules: The Commission has worked closely with the Member States to clarify the 'habitual residence test' used in the EU rules on social security coordination (Regulation 883/2004/EC) in a practical guide published on 13 January 2014 (IP/14/13).

  3. Address social inclusion challenges: Help Member States further use the European Social Fund to tackle social inclusion: From 1 January 2014, at least 20% of ESF funds should be spent on promoting social inclusion and combating poverty in each Member State.

  4. Ensure the application of EU free movement rules on the ground: the Commission will also set up by the end of 2014, in cooperation with Member States, an online training module to help staff in local authorities fully understand and apply free movement rights of EU citizens.

  5. Promote the exchange of best practices amongst local authorities: The Commission will help local authorities to share knowledge developed across Europe to better address social inclusion challenges, including the conference of mayors.

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:

http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-14-9_en.htm

European Commission – Free movement

http://ec.europa.eu/justice/citizen/move-live/index_en.htm

Homepage of Vice-President Viviane Reding, EU Justice Commissioner:

http://ec.europa.eu/reding

Follow the Vice-President on Twitter:@VivianeRedingEU

Follow EU Justice on Twitter: @EU_Justice

ANNEX: DRAFT AGENDA

9:30: OPENING WORDS

  1. László ANDOR, Member of the European Commission responsible for employment, social affairs and inclusion (video message)

  2. Dimitrios KAFANTARIS, Mayor of Pylos

  3. Mercedes BRESSO, 1st Vice-President of the Committee of the Regions

  4. Françoise LE BAIL, Director-General for Justice, European Commission

10 :00 - 10:40: INFORMATION SESSION: EU POLICIES ON FREE MOVEMENT AND INCLUSION FOR THE LOCAL LEVEL

  1. Claudia GALLO, Ernst & Young,

  2. Chiara ADAMO, European Commission, DG Justice, Head of Unit for Union Citizenship and Free Movement

  3. Armindo SILVA, Director, European Commission, DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion,

  4. Director for Employment and Social legislation, Social Dialogue Charlina VITCHEVA, Director for Inclusive Growth, Urban and Territorial Development and Northern Europe at DG Regional Policies

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

  1. Anna KÖNIG JERLMYR, Vice-Mayor of Stockholm for Social Affairs

  2. Antonio Luis DOS SANTOS DA COSTA, Mayor of Lisbon and chair of the Committee of the Regions CIVEX commission

  3. Jan PÖRKSEN, Hamburg State Secretary for work, social affairs, family and integration

11:45-12:45 General discussion

12:45 Press conference in Committee of the Regions, room JDE53

  1. Viviane REDING, Vice-President of the European Commission

  2. Antonio Luis DOS SANTOS DA COSTA, Mayor of Lisbon and chair of the Committee of the Regions CIVEX commission

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

  1. Richard BLAKEWAY, Deputy Mayor of London for housing

• Ovidiu PORTARIUC, Mayor of Botosani Municipality, Romania

  1. Gilles PARGNEAUX, Vice-President of Eurometropolis Lille-Kortrijk-Tournai

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

  1. Marnix NORDER, Deputy Mayor of The Hague for urban development, public housing and integration

  2. Vladimir KISSIOV, Municipal Councillor of Sofia, Vice-Chair of Committee of the Regions CIVEX Commission (Commission for Citizenship, Governance, Institutional and External Affairs)

16:45-17:45 General discussion

17:45: CONCLUDING SPEECHES

  1. Ramón Luis VALCÁRCEL SISO, President of the Committee of the Regions

  2. Viviane REDING, Vice-President of the European Commission

17:45: CONCLUDING SPEECHES

  1. Ramón Luis VALCÁRCEL SISO, President of the Committee of the Regions

  2. Viviane REDING, Vice-President of the European Commission

Contacts :

Mina Andreeva (+32 2 299 13 82)

Natasha Bertaud (+32 2 296 74 56)

For the public: Europe Direct by phone 00 800 6 7 8 9 10 11 or by e­mail


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