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Europeans still face barriers to working abroad - 13/07/2010

Young woman with pencil reading job ads in newspaper © EC

Survey shows one in two Europeans willing to pull up stakes if they can’t find work at home

Some 11.3 million Europeans live in an EU country other than their own, 4 million more than a decade ago but still only 2.3% of the EU’s population.

The numbers were cited in an EU report today as evidence that not enough Europeans take advantage of their right to work anywhere in the bloc – one of the main benefits of the European single market and important to its success.

The report provides an update on the rights of EU migrant workers in light of court decisions broadening the scope over the last decade. The European Court of Justice court has ruled, for example, that workers include people employed temporarily or to athletes paid to play in other EU countries.

The report is part of a renewed push to make it easier for Europeans to work abroad in the EU. The bloc’s new 10-year economic plan identifies a more mobile workforce as key to lowering unemployment, which has risen sharply during the recession. The rate was 9.6% in May, compared with 6.8% the same month in 2008, before the financial crisis.

“Worker mobility can help reduce unemployment by matching people with jobs available,” says employment commissioner László Andor. “Europeans recognise this fact but still face barriers to moving around Europe for work.”

A survey published alongside the report shows 48% of Europeans would consider looking for work in another country or region if they were to lose their job. And 17% envisage working abroad in the future.

Besides legal barriers, Europeans face administrative and practical obstacles. Housing, language and spousal employment are just a few of the factors influencing cross-border mobility.

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