Focus on...

Commissioner Andor defends EU freedom of movement

Mobile EU workers have helped boost their host countries’ economies, contribute to government revenues, and address skills shortages and labour market bottlenecks, argued EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion László Andor during a lecture at the University of Bristol on 10 February.
“The truth, and indeed it might be ‘inconvenient’ for some, is that the vast majority of people who move from one EU country to another do so in order to work,” says Commissioner Andor. “They don’t do it in order to claim benefits. These workers are in fact of considerable benefit to the economies, and to the welfare systems, of the receiving countries.”
The Commissioner went on to argue that movement between the labour markets of various EU countries should not be considered a “zero-sum game” as the increased economic growth from labour mobility creates further employment opportunities for both domestic and foreign workers.
“Most studies of the post-enlargement economic impact conclude that it has been positive overall,” he says. “For instance, a model-based study estimates that post-enlargement mobility flows over the period 2004 to 2009 have increased the GDP of the EU-15 countries by around 1 %, with higher figures in the major countries of destination, such as Ireland, the UK, Spain and Italy.”
No evidence of significant “welfare tourism”
Responding to recent concerns from Member States about so-called “welfare tourism”, the Commissioner says that to date no Member State has given the Commissioner any factual evidence for the phenomenon.
“The overall impact of EU mobile citizens on the social security systems of the countries of destination is likely to be positive, given their high participation rate. There is no evidence that they represent a burden on the welfare systems of the host Member States – on the contrary they pay more in taxes and social security contributions than they receive in benefits,” explains Commissioner Andor.
Breaking down mobility barriers
With the annual mobility rate of workers between EU countries in 2011-12 standing at around 0.2 % of the total population, and with the benefits the EU Member States can reap from increased worker mobility, Commissioner Andor also said that the Commission was working to further facilitate worker mobility across Europe.
This includes the Commission’s proposed upgrade of EURES to allow more jobseekers to become aware of job vacancies in other countries and to help employers find people with the right qualifications and experience for the positions they have available.
“The proposed upgrade would enable EURES to provide more job offers and increase the possibility of job matches, helping employees and SMEs in particular, to fill job vacancies faster and better,” says Commissioner Andor.
Read more:
Read the full lecture
Watch the full lecture
Find out more about the working and living conditions in different European countries on the EURES Job Mobility Portal
Find out what EURES can do for employers
Search for a job in the EURES Job Database
Join EURES on Facebook
Follow EURES on Twitter
Connect to EURES on LinkedIn
Follow EURES on Google+


Text last edited on: 03/2014

"Focus on…" articles are intended to provide users of the EURES portal with information on current topics and trends and to stimulate discussion and debate. They do not necessarily reflect the view of the European Commission.