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European Commission


Brussels, 17 January 2014

Employment: What is EURES, the pan-European job search network

What is EURES and what does it do?

EURES (the European jobseeker mobility network) is a cooperation network between the European Commission and the public employment services (PES) of the European Economic Area (EEA) Member States (the EU Member States plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) and other partner organisations. Switzerland also takes part in EURES cooperation.

The EURES network, set up in 1993, is responsible for exchanging information and enabling cooperation among its stakeholders in order to help make free movement of workers a reality. EURES promotes mobility and reduces barriers to workers by contributing to the development of a European labour market that is open and accessible for all, ensuring the exchange of vacancies and job applications and transparency on labour market information.

EURES provides free assistance to jobseekers wishing to move to another country and provides advice on living and working conditions in the EEA. It also assists employers wishing to recruit workers from other countries and in cross-border regions.

The present EURES set up consists of two principal components:

  • the network of employment officers which provides information, guidance and support to jobseekers wishing to work in other Member States and employers looking to recruit suitable candidates from other Member States.

  • the EURES portal which provides access to job vacancies and is a real one-stop-shop for information on job mobility in Europe. It provides a range of other useful tools to help people make informed choices on the opportunities available.

Mobility in Europe: facts and figures

Free movement of people is one of the fundamental freedoms guaranteed by EU law. According to a Qualitative Eurobarometer study conducted in 2010, it is the right EU citizens cherish the most; they consider it virtually synonymous with their status as EU citizens. It is enshrined in Articles 45 and 21 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). The Treaty itself and the Charter of Fundamental Rights confer directly to EU citizens the right to move and reside freely within the Union, together with a right to equal treatment, as part of their status as citizens of the Union.

According to the EU Labour Force survey (EU-LFS), in the second quarter of 2013 there were around 7.8 million EU citizens economically active in another EU country, representing 3.2% of the EU labour force. This represents a substantial increase compared to 2005 (around 4.8 million in 2005, or 2.1% of the EU labour force) driven notably by the 2004 and 2007 enlargements. However, the economic crisis has led to a decrease in mobility flows between EU countries – in 2009-11, intra-EU mobility flows dropped by one third, compared to the 2006-08 period.

Moreover, those aggregate estimates do not include all EU mobile citizens because the EU-LFS covers mainly people who are 'usually resident' in a country and not for instance, the most recent movers or the short-term mobile workers (e.g.: staying only a few months). According to the 2009 Eurobarometer on geographical and labour mobility, around 10 % of EU citizens declared that they had already worked and lived in another country at some time, with 51 % of them having worked for less than two years, and 38 % for less than one year. According to the 2011 Eurobarometer on the Single Market, 28% of the EU working-age citizens would consider working in another EU country in the future. Moreover, this share is particularly high (54%) among the young people (15-24) and among those aged 25-39 (38%).

International comparisons (e.g. OECD Economic Survey of the EU 2012) indicate that cross border mobility between EU Member States is limited compared to other regions (such as United States, Canada, Australia). Although this can be partly explained by the very wide linguistic diversity and various institutional frameworks, these comparisons still suggest that more scope exists for higher geographical mobility in the EU. Moreover, the massive gaps currently existing between EU countries and regions in terms of unemployment rates and job vacancy rates are another sign that the potential of geographical labour mobility is insufficiently tapped (see the staff working document on Labour Market Trends and Challenges accompanying the Commission's April 2012 Employment Package). Current levels of mobility are still relatively low compared to the EU potential and not commensurate to what could be expected within a genuine single EU labour market.

Why does the Commission encourage intra-EU labour mobility?

Limited geographic mobility was identified in the 2012 Annual Growth Survey as one of the reasons for the structural mismatch between supply and demand for labour, hence hindering recovery and long-term growth (see IP/11/1381).

In the current situation of high unemployment and strong divergence across Member States, labour mobility can play an important role. Significant numbers of unfilled vacancies in high growth areas coexist today with high unemployment in other parts of the EU. Labour mobility can alleviate the pressure of employment in countries affected by the crisis while responding to the needs of the labour market where there is a high level of labour demand. According to Eurostat, while unemployment rates in November 2013 were around 5-6% in Luxembourg, Austria and Germany, they were close to 15-19% in Portugal, Cyprus and Croatia and higher than 25% in Spain and Greece.

Intra-EU labour mobility can help to address imbalances and support employment, whilst restoring dynamism and alleviating social suffering. Mobility can also help to kick-start recruitment drives and meet the needs of numerous employers by providing them with the skilled workforce they seek. Workers for their part can gain from a positive transition into employment.

Many studies have showed in the past the overall positive impact of mobility for both workers and firms. For instance, post-enlargement mobility is estimated to have increased the GDP of EU-15 countries by around 1% in the 2004 to 2009 period.

EURES Success Stories

Every day the EURES-network helps many jobseekers and employers to find a job and qualified employees. Below is a selection of some of the success stories from 2013.

A Lisbon job fair leads to a job in the Netherlands

Pedro Pereira, a Portuguese electrical engineer made redundant as result of the crisis, found a new position in the Netherlands through a job fair in Lisbon.

A successful Job Day: 500 new contracts in four countries

A recent job fair in the German city of Saarbrücken, close to the French border, brought together over 6 500 visitors and led to 500 new placements and contracts.

Assisting Bulgarian jobseekers to work in Germany

The cooperation between EURES Germany and Bulgaria helped 208 jobseekers from Bulgaria to find a job in Germany from January to September 2013, mainly in vacancies that where hard to fill in the local labor market.

630 job vacancies on offer at European Job Day in Ireland

EURES Ireland recently organized a European Job Day in Dublin to help combat the high unemployment rates on the Emerald Isle.

Helping cross-border workers

EURES also has an important role in advising and supporting cross-border workers. As an example, this is the case of a Belgian job seeker to find a position just across the German border.

Engineers from Portugal find success in Norway

Over the past two years, an engineering group from Norway has employed eight Portuguese engineers via EURES services.

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