Mobility: Free movement of workers in the EU31 August 2009
by inadim -- last modified 31 August 2009
The European Union's Council Regulation (EEC) No 1612/68 entitles all nationals of an EU Member State to take up and engage in gainful employment on the territory of another Member State in conformity with the relevant regulations applicable to national workers.
The Regulation firstly entitles all nationals of a Member State to take up and engage in gainful employment on the territory of another Member State in conformity with the relevant regulations applicable to national workers.
This entitlement is enjoyed without discrimination by permanent, seasonal and frontier workers or by those who pursue their activities for the purpose of providing services.
A worker on the territory of another Member State is entitled to the same priority as the nationals of that Member State as regards access to available employment and to the same assistance as that afforded by the host Member State's employment offices to their own nationals seeking employment. Recruitment may not be dependent on medical, occupational or other criteria which discriminate on the grounds of nationality.
Exercising an occupation and equal treatment
The Regulation prohibits any discrimination of workers who are nationals of a Member State on the territory of another Member State as regards working and employment conditions (dismissal and remuneration in particular) because of their nationality. They also have the same entitlement to occupational training and retraining measures.
They shall enjoy the same social and tax advantages as national workers.
Nationals of a Member State working in another is entitled to equal treatment in respect of the exercise of trade union rights, including the right to vote and to be eligible for the administration or management posts of a trade union. They may be precluded from involvement in the management of public law bodies and from holding an office governed by public law. They also have the right of eligibility for workers' representative bodies within the undertaking.
With regard to the provisions on family unification, the current Regulation has been amended by a new Directive 2004/38/EC. Firstly, it extends the definition of 'family member', which had previously been restricted to the spouse, direct descendants who are under the age of 21 or who are dependants and direct dependent relatives in the ascending line, to include also registered partners, if the legislation of the host Member State treats registered partnerships as equivalent to marriage.
For a period of up to three months family members from a Member State may thus exercise their fundamental right to reside freely on the territory of another Member State. For periods of longer than three months they derive their right of residence from the fact of being a member of the family of a worker who is a Union citizen. They do not need a residence card but must nevertheless register with the relevant authorities.
Family members from a non-member country enjoy the same rights as the Union citizen whom they accompany but may be required to have a short-stay visa or equivalent. For periods of longer than three months they must apply for a 'Residence card of a family member of a Union citizen', which is valid for at least five years and which in principle may not be withdrawn.
All family members, irrespective of nationality, are entitled to permanent residence after a continuous period of five years. This right is lost in the event of absence from the host State for more than two years. They are also entitled to social security benefits and have the right to take paid or unpaid employment.
Directive 2004/38/EC makes Union citizenship the fundamental basis of nationals of the Member States when they exercise their right of free movement and residence on the territory of the Union. Previously, there were various Community instruments dealing separately with workers, self-employed persons, students and other inactive persons. It also incorporates the rights of family members of workers in this new approach.
Clearance of vacancies and applications for employment
The Regulation also provides for positive action in the area of clearing of vacancies and applications for employment in order to stimulate mobility on the European labour market. This initiative was developed in 1993 with the creation of the European Employment Services network, entitled EURES.
The Regulation provides that Member States shall designate specialist services that work together with each other and with the Commission with a view to bringing into touch and clearing vacancies and applications for employment. In addition, each specialist service in a Member State shall communicate all useful information on working and living conditions, and on the labour market situation, to the specialist services in other Member States, which in turn shall disseminate this information in order to provide guidance to workers on the possibilities of working in another Member State. Now known as public employment services, these specialised services carry out a mission which remains valid today.
The specialist services can delegate the clearance of vacancies and applications for employment to regional services. If the latter are territorially responsible for the border regions of two or more Member States, they can up set up cooperation and service structures. Specialist placement services for certain professions can exchange data relating to vacancies and applications for employment directly with each other.
The Regulation establishes the European Coordination Office within the Commission, which is today known as the EURES Coordination Office (EURESco). This Office is establishing a uniform system for the exchange of vacancies and job applications. It analyses the movements of workers resulting from this clearance activity and produces a report on the results of this analysis every two years. It organises training courses for specialist staff in the Member States and can become involved in the clearance of vacancies itself.
ScopeWorkers from non-EU countries or territories pursuing activities as employed persons in the territory of a Member State under an agreement between this Member State and their country or territory of origin may not invoke the benefit of the free movement of workers within the EU granted by this Regulation.
Source: Summaries of EU Legislation