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Living and Working in the EU

Living and working in the European Union.

Gender equality
Equality between women and men is one of the European Union's founding values. It goes back to 1957 when the principle of equal pay for equal work became part of the Treaty of Rome. The European Union's achievements in fostering equality between women and men have focused on treatment legislation; mainstreaming (integration of the gender perspective into all other policies); measures for the advancement of women.

EU gender equality intiatives
On International Women's Day 2016, here are the priorities of the European Commission in terms of gender equality.

The rise of temporary contracts in Europe - Eurofound report
More than 1 in 10 employees in the EU are employed on temporary contracts, but a majority of them would prefer a permanent contract. Temporary contracts help employers to manage their labour demand, but there are downsides for employees, such as job insecurity and lower pay.

EU action to combat terrorism and illegal trafficking of firearms and explosives
The European Commission adopted on 2 December a package of measures to step up the fight against terrorism and the illegal trafficking of firearms and explosives.

International Day for the elimination of Violence against women
The United Nations General Assembly has designated November 25 as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (Resolution 54/134). The premise of the day is to raise awareness of the fact that women around the world are subject to rape, domestic violence and other forms of violence; furthermore, one of the aims of the day is to highlight that the scale and true nature of the issue is often hidden.

Proposals to strengthen control of firearms across the EU
The European Commission adopted on 18 November a package of measures to make it more difficult to acquire firearms in the European Union, track legally held firearms, strengthen cooperation between Member States, and ensure that deactivated firearms are rendered inoperable.

Gender equality: challenges for the EU
Ahead of International Women's Day (8 March), the European Commission is reaffirming its commitment to tackle gender inequalities across the EU.

Statutory minimum wage levels in Europe in 2015 - Eurofound
Most EU Member States have a statutory minimum wage, which sets the lowest legal amount of pay for all employees. Some Member States also have specific lower minimum levels for certain groups of workers, mainly younger ones. During the economic crisis, minimum wage levels have been mainly frozen, with only moderate increases in some countries. However, over the past two years, the minimum wage levels have begun to increase, and this first EU wide compilation of minimum wage levels in Europe in 2015 shows a marked change in trends. This article presents the most recent data on statutory minimum wages, applicable on 1 January 2015, and an overview of the discussions leading to the final settlements made in 2014.

Access City Award 2015 for disabled-friendly cities
The 2015 Access City Award has been won by the Swedish city of Borås, the European Commission announced on 3 December. The Award recognises Borås's comprehensive and strategic approach to creating an accessible city for all; a good example of local action to help removing the many barriers that people with disabilities still face in their daily life.

Frontex Operation Triton
Frontex has finalised all preparations for the launch of Joint Operation Triton on November 1st 2014. With a monthly budget of EUR 2,9 million the agency will coordinate the deployment of three open sea patrol vessels, two coastal patrol vessels, two coastal patrol boats, two aircraft, and one helicopter in the Central Mediterranean. The operational area of Triton will cover the territorial waters of Italy as well as parts of the search and rescue (SAR) zones of the both countries. Frontex will operate under the command of the Italian Ministry of Interior, in cooperation with Guardia di Finanza, as well as the Italian Coast Guard.

"Going Abroad" app
What is the speed limit on Spanish motorways? Do I need to wear a helmet when I cycle in Sweden? What safety equipment must I always have in the car when driving in Slovakia? From now on, holiday makers do not need to spend a lot of time searching for this information. They can have it at hand wherever they are with the European Commission's new smartphone app "Going Abroad".

Developments in collectively agreed pay 2013 - Eurofound
The available national data reveal that average nominal collectively agreed pay increases in 2013 were roughly the same as or lower than those in 2012 in all the countries examined. However, because of lower inflation rates, employees in a number of countries saw the purchasing power of their wages increase again. This is a change from the post-crisis trend that had been observed since 2011 in many EU Member States. The increases in collectively agreed nominal wages for the chemical sector were lower in 2013 than in 2012. The development in the retail sector was less straightforward, with 10 countries reporting a lower wage increase in 2013 than in 2012 and another 10 countries reporting a higher or equal wage increase. From the sectors examined (civil service, retail and chemical sectors), civil service pay trends were the most negative, with the majority of countries surveyed reporting pay freezes or pay cuts in the sector. The study was compiled on the basis of individual national reports submitted by the EIRO correspondents. The text of each of these national reports is available below. The reports have not been edited or approved by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions. The national reports were drawn up in response to a questionnaire and should be read in conjunction with it.

Report on the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and Progress Report on Gender Equality
The 4th annual report published today by the European Commission on the application of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, shows that the importance and prominence of the EU Charter continues to rise: the Court of Justice of the EU increasingly applies the Charter in its decisions while national judges are more and more aware of the Charter's impact and seek guidance from the European Court of Justice. The European Commission has also progressively sought to bring the Charter to life by taking action to promote and defend the rights of EU citizens laid down in the Charter. Since 2010, the European Commission has put in place a 'fundamental rights checklist' and as a result screens every legislative proposal to ensure it is "fundamental-rights proof". The annual report on the application of the Charter tracks the progress made and identifies challenges and concerns. It shows: the European Commission places fundamental rights at the heart of all EU policies.

Cross border taxation of citizens
The European Commission is launching two public consultations and creating an expert group to gather ideas on how to tackle any tax obstacles that hinder the cross-border activity of individuals in the Single Market. At the same time, the Commission has launched new web pages aimed at providing useful tax information to individuals who are active across borders.

Simpler, more flexible visa rules
Many non-EU nationals wishing to travel to the EU are often faced with cumbersome, lengthy and costly visa procedures. The proposals presented today will seriously shorten and simplify the procedures for those wanting to come to the EU for short stays, and induce more cost savings and less bureaucracy, whilst maintaining the level of security. Making the access to the Schengen area easier for legitimate travellers will facilitate visiting friends and relatives and doing business. It will boost economic activity and job creation in, for instance, the tourism sector as well as in related activities such as restaurant and transport industries. A recent study shows that in 2012 a total number of 6.6 million potential travellers from six of the countries with the most travellers were 'lost' due to cumbersome visa procedures. It also showed that more flexible and accessible visa rules could lead to an increase in trips to the Schengen area of between 30% and up to 60%, only from these six countries. This could mean as much as EUR 130 billion in total direct spending over five years (in accommodation, food and drink, transports, entertainment, shopping, etc.), and could translate into some 1.3 million jobs in tourism and related sectors.

Gender Pay Gap stagnates at 16.4% across Europe
Women in Europe still work 59 days ‘for free’ – this is what the latest figures released today by the European Commission show. The gender pay gap – the average difference between women and men’s hourly earnings across the entire economy – has barely moved in recent years and still stands at around 16% (it stands at 16.4% as the year before). The latest figures mean European Equal Pay Day is marked on 28 February, for the second year in a row. The EU-wide event marks the date in the new calendar year from which women really begin to be paid for their work as compared to men. In effect it means that today women work 59 days "for free" until they match the amount earned by men. This is the fourth time the Equal Pay Day takes place at European level.

Gender pay gap statistics
This article shows how gender inequalities in terms of pay vary widely among Member States of the European Union (EU) and among groups of employees. The unadjusted gender pay pap (GPG) is an important indicator used within the European employment strategy (EES) to monitor imbalances in wages between men and women. It is defined as the relative difference (in percentage) between the average gross hourly earnings of women and men.

Commission study on integration of mobile EU citizens in six cities
EU citizens go to other EU countries mainly for job opportunities and are on average younger and more likely to be working. This is confirmed by a new, independent study on the impact of the right to move freely within the EU, published on 11 February 2014. The study focuses on six European cities, chosen for the multinational composition of their population: Barcelona, Dublin, Hamburg, Lille, Prague and Turin. It shows that for all six cities the inflow of younger, working age EU citizens has had a positive economic impact. For example in Turin, a local evaluation shows that tax revenues from foreigners on the whole brought a net benefit of 1.5 billion € to national public finances. The study also shows that newcomers have helped fill gaps in local labour markets, contributed to growth in new sectors and have helped balance out ageing populations. It finds that mobile citizens are often overqualified for the jobs they take up, may be paid less and at the same time do not always benefit from the same access to housing and education.

Anti-Corruption report
Corruption continues to be a challenge for Europe - a phenomenon that costs the European economy around EUR 120 billion per year. EU Member States have taken many initiatives in recent years, but the results are uneven and the Commission believes more should be done to prevent and punish corruption. In its February 2014 report, the Commission provides a picture of the situation in each Member State: measures in place, outstanding issues, policies that are working and areas that could be improved. The report shows that the nature and scope of corruption varies from one Member State to another and that the effectiveness of anti-corruption policies is quite different. It also shows that corruption deserves greater attention in all EU Member States.

EU Anti-Corruption Report
Corruption continues to be a challenge for Europe, according to the European Commission. Affecting all EU Member States, corruption costs the European economy around EUR 120 billion per year. Member States have taken many initiatives in recent years, but the results are seen as uneven and the Commission says more should be done to prevent and punish corruption. These are some of the conclusions from the first ever EU Anti-Corruption Report published on 3 February 2014. The EU Anti-Corruption Report explains the situation in each Member State: what anti-corruption measures are in place, which ones are working well, what could be improved and how. National chapters in English and in national languages are available here: http://ec.europa.eu/anti-corruption-report The report shows that both the nature and level of corruption, and the effectiveness of measures taken to fight it, vary from one Member State to another. It also shows that corruption deserves greater attention in all Member States.

Guide on application of ‘Habitual Residence Test’ for social security
A practical guide on the 'Habitual Residence Test' to help Member States apply EU rules on the coordination of social security for EU citizens that have moved to another Member State has just been published by the European Commission. The new guide gives more clarity about the EU 'Habitual Residence Test' and will facilitate its application in practice by Member States' authorities.

Free movement of people: five actions to benefit citizens, growth and employment in the EU
A European Commission policy paper outlines five concrete actions to strengthen the right to free movement, while helping EU Member States to reap the positive benefits it brings. The policy paper clarifies citizens' rights to free movement and access to social benefits, and addresses the concerns raised by some Member States in relation to the challenges that migration flows can represent for local authorities.

Proposal on increasing Gender Equality in the Boardrooms of Listed Companies
Companies listed on stock exchanges in the EU would have to bring in transparent recruitment procedures so that by 2020, at least 40% of their non-executive directors are women, under a draft EU directive voted by Parliament on 20 November 2013. MEPs propose that companies which fail to introduce such procedures should face penalties. In 2013, only 17.6% of non-executive board members of the EU's largest companies were women.

Women on Boards: Commission proposes 40% objective
The European Commission is taking action to break the glass ceiling that continues to bar female talent from top positions in Europe’s biggest companies. The Commission has proposed legislation with the aim of attaining a 40% objective of the under-represented sex in non-executive board-member positions in publicly listed companies, with the exception of small and medium enterprises. Currently, boards are dominated by one gender: 85% of non-executive board members and 91.1% of executive board members are men, while women make up 15% and 8.9% respectively.

EU action against gun violence - Communication
The European Commission has presented suggestions on how to reduce gun related violence in Europe. It identifies actions at EU level, through legislation, operational activities, training and EU funding, to address the threats posed by the illegal use of firearms. The ideas address weaknesses in the EU across the whole lifecycle of weapons, including production, sale, possession, trade, storage and deactivation, while respecting strong traditions of lawful gun use, such as sports shooting and hunting for example.