Today the European Commission has published a new report on transitional arrangements on free movement for Croatian workers, concluding that future potential flows of Croatian workers to other EU Member States are likely to be small and unlikely to lead to labour market disturbances. Mobile citizens from Croatia are mainly of working-age and relatively well educated; they tend to be younger and more likely to be employed compared to nationals of the host countries.
Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility Marianne Thyssen commented: "Mobility can be an opportunity both for workers and the host economies. This has been shown by previous enlargements. The Commission is fully committed to facilitating labour mobility, while ensuring it is fair for all".
Since Croatia joined the EU in July 2013, Croatian workers' mobility has been small in relation to the population and labour force of 13 Member States that currently apply transitional restrictions.
After the accession, Germany and Austria have remained the main destinations of mobile workers from Croatia, despite the fact that they apply restrictions. Germany hosts 68% of total mobile Croatians and Austria 17%.
In the 14 Member States which have opened their labour markets, the increase of Croatian workers has been very low in absolute terms.
Croatian workers' mobility is likely to continue at a low level in the future, without leading to labour market disturbances even in the main destination countries and, as estimates show, even if the restrictions are lifted.
The outflow of young and highly educated Croatian workers, although higher since the accession, remains so far moderate. There is no evidence of this having caused skills shortages in the Croatian economy. On the contrary, the report points to the positive impact of labour mobility for Croatia, both in terms of a potential reduction of unemployment and of benefiting from remittances sent from Croatian workers abroad.
The report recalls that after previous enlargements mobile EU workers have brought needed skills to the host labour markets and help fill local labour shortages. Studies have also shown that they tend to have a neutral or positive fiscal impact on the host economies.
According to the 2011 Act of Accession, EU-27 Member States can temporarily restrict the access of workers from Croatia to their labour markets.
The overall transitional period lasts seven years and is divided into three phases:
- For the first two years, the access is regulated by the national law of the other Member States. 13 Member States decided to apply restrictions and in principle require a work permit from Croatian workers (AT, BE, CY, FR, DE, EL, IT, LU, MT, NL, ES, SI and UK). The others have decided to fully apply EU free movement rules to Croatian workers. This period will come to an end on 30 June 2015.
- During the second phase, which will last three years, Member States may maintain restrictions if they notify it to the Commission beforehand.
- During the third phase, which lasts two years, Member States maintaining restrictions in the second phase can still extend them, again after notifying the Commission, if there is a threat of serious disturbances to their labour market.
During these seven years, Member States can lift restrictions at any time. They may re-introduce them later if there are serious disturbances on their labour market, or a threat thereof. The transitional arrangements end irrevocably on 30 June 2020.
The report published today by the Commission will serve as the basis for the Council's review of the transitional arrangements, which must be completed before the end of the first two years' phase.
Croatian citizens (all ages) residing in other EU Member States in 2013, in thousands, by country of residence
Source: Eurostat Population statistics
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