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László Andor in Vienna

25/02/2011

Free movement of workers is an opportunity, not just for individual workers, but also for Austria

Speaking in Vienna today, Commissioner Andor took part in a lively exchange of views on the issue of the free movement of workers. Rudolf Hundstorfer, the Austrian Federal Minister for Labour, Social Affairs and Consumer Protection and Dr. Sándor Czomba the Hungarian secretary of state for employment also took part.  As the May 1st deadline for the lifting for labour market restrictions by Austria and Germany is approaching, Commissioner Andor underlined the need for an open European labour market saying "The end of the transitional measures on free movement of workers is a huge opportunity, not just for individual workers, but also for Austria ".

The Commissioner recognised the current economic and social challenges in the EU today and stressed again the overall benefits of free movement. Speaking to a group of journalists he said "Workers from the countries that joined in 2004 can already work in most other Member States and our reports show that there was no massive influx of workers following this enlargement. We have not seen a major impact on wages and there has not been any rise in welfare tourism. He added: "What we see is that people travel to where there are jobs. Even in times of economic downturn, jobs remain vacant and free movement can help fill these gaps."

The opening of the Austrian labour market in May 2011 will take place against a background of high unemployment in Europe, where specific vulnerable groups like young people and the Roma people face even greater challenges. In this context, Mr Andor took the opportunity of his visit to present two of the EU's Europe 2020 flagship initiatives: "Youth on the Move   " dealing with learning and working mobility and the "Agenda for New Skills and Jobs   " which addresses more structural challenges in Europe's labour markets.