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Free movement of workers: challenges and opportunities at local level

10/09/2015
Supervisor, white-collar worker and business woman standing in front of a laptop. © Kzenon / Shutterstock.com

Reports from four cities examine the impact of free movement of EU workers at a local level, on the basis of studies conducted in Frankfurt, Leeds, Milan and Rotterdam in 2014/2015.

Challenges and opportunities

The reports analyse the challenges and the opportunities facing both workers from other EU countries wishing to integrate in the local labour market, as well as local workers and communities. In addition, they consider the policies and solutions which have been put in place to facilitate the socio-economic inclusion of mobile EU workers and their families.

The Commission tasked a contractor to carry out the four studies, to pursue its efforts to analyse the impact of free movement, in the specific case of EU workers, at local level.

Results

The reports present some interesting results, namely:

  • mobile EU workers are a very diverse population, ranging from highly skilled globalised professionals to workers taking up temporary contracts in low-skilled jobs;
  • mobile EU workers can benefit the local economy by bringing entrepreneurial energy, purchasing goods and services, and helping to revitalise the housing market;
  • mobile EU workers can be at risk of exploitation, especially in the case of low-skilled workers, which can lead to negative consequences for local wages and working conditions;
  • the sudden arrival of high volumes of mobile EU workers in the four cities has posed some challenges, often related to broader challenges affecting urban areas such as the shortage of affordable (rental) housing and financial pressure on local services in the context of austerity measures;
  • there is no evidence to suggest that mobile EU workers are intensive users of local services (though there is a perception that this is the case amongst some local service providers);
  • the challenge of having to cater for mobile EU workers has prompted some services to improve the dissemination of information to the public.

Balanced approach

In line with the Commission's balanced approach to mobility and attention to the reality on the ground, the reports consider the issue from all sides, including the mobile workers, local workers and the local community at large in the analysis.