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Guides on the EU policy on living and working in the EU.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Roma integration: Progress Report and Recommendation
The European Commission has called on Member States to deliver on their commitments to ensure equality and to do more to improve the economic and social integration of Europe's 10 to 12 million Roma. The call follows the Commission's progress report released today which shows that Member States need to do better in implementing their national Roma integration strategies submitted under the EU Framework for national Roma integration strategies. The new report is accompanied by a proposal for a Recommendation addressed to EU countries which proposes to Member States on the one hand specific measures, including positive action, and on the other hand, horizontal policy measures, including local actions to improve the situation of Roma people. Member States would have two years to put concrete measures into practice to make a difference for Roma people on the ground.
Third Schengen 'health check' - annual report on EU free movement
The European Commission on 3 June presented its third Schengen 'health check', a biannual overview on the functioning of the Schengen area.
Patient rights in the EU
European Patients' Rights Day was on 16 May. The European Commission took the opportunity to list some of the rights and benefits afforded to patients in the EU.
Charter of Fundamental Rights and on Progress in Gender Equality: EU report
Three years after it became legally binding, the European Union's Charter of Fundamental Rights is becoming a point of reference not only for the EU institutions when drawing up legislation but also for the European and national courts, making fundamental rights a reality for citizens in Europe. These are the findings of today's third annual report on the application of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, covering 2012, which illustrates with a wide range of fundamental rights related cases that the EU is continuing to build a more coherent system for protecting people's fundamental rights. Today's report is accompanied by a new progress report on equality between women and men during 2012 and it coincides with a series of new actions to reinforce citizens' rights that the Commission has put forward in its 2013 EU Citizenship Report.
Improving application of workers' rights to free movement
The European Commission has proposed measures to ensure better application of EU law on people's right to work in another EU Member State and so make it easier for people to exercise their rights in practice. Currently there is a persistent problem with public and private employers' lack of awareness of EU rules, regardless of whether the national legislation is compliant or not. This lack of awareness or understanding of the rules is a major source of discrimination based on nationality. People also consider that they do not know where to turn to in the host Member State when faced with problems concerning their rights to free movement. The proposal aims to overcome these obstacles and to help to prevent discrimination against workers on the basis of nationality by proposing practical solutions.
EC moves to cut legal red tape
The European Commission is proposing to slash red tape for citizens and businesses by doing away with bureaucratic rubber-stamping exercises which are currently required to get public documents, such as your birth certificate, recognised as authentic in another EU Member State. Currently, citizens who move to another Member State have to spend a lot of time and money in order to demonstrate that their public documents (such as birth or marriage certificates) issued by their Member State of origin are authentic. This involves the so-called 'Apostille' certificate which is used by public authorities in other states as proof that public documents, or the signatures of national officials on documents, are genuine. Businesses operating across EU borders in the EU’s Single Market are also affected. For instance, they will often be required to produce a number of certified public documents in order to prove their legal status when operating cross-border. These requirements date from an era when countries would only trust a public document if it came from the foreign office of another country. However, just as we trust in each other's court judgements, we should be able to trust a Member State's Registry Office issuing birth certificates, without needing their foreign office, justice ministry, or other authorities to vouch for them. Today, the European Commission is therefore proposing to scrap the 'Apostille' stamp and a further series of arcane administrative requirements for certifying public documents for people living and working in other Member States.
Trafficking in human beings in the EU
23.632 people were identified or presumed victims of trafficking in the EU over the 2008-2010 period. This is the most striking figure emerging from the first report on trafficking in human beings in Europe, published today by the European Commission. The report also highlights that the number of people being trafficked in and to the EU increased by 18% from 2008 to 2010, but less traffickers end up behind bars, since convictions decreased by 13% over the same period. Despite this worrying background, to date, only 6 out of the 27 EU Member States have fully transposed the EU Anti-Trafficking Directive into their national legislation and three countries have only reported partial transposition of the directive, with the deadline having expired on 6 April 2013.
Schengen Information System (SIS II)
The second generation Schengen Information System (SIS II) entered into operation on 9 April 2013 to increase security and facilitate free movement within the Schengen area. The SIS II allows for an easy exchange of information between national border control authorities, customs and police authorities on persons who may have been involved in a serious crime. It also contains alerts on missing persons, in particular children, as well as information on certain property, such as banknotes, cars, vans, firearms and identity documents that may have been stolen, misappropriated or lost.
'Smart borders' proposal
The European Commission has proposed a 'smart border package' with the aim of speeding up, facilitating and reinforcing border check procedures for foreigners travelling to the EU. The package - which would move the EU towards "a more modern and efficient border management" by using state-of-the-art technology - consists of a Registered Traveller Programme (RTP) and an Entry/Exit System (EES) that will simplify life for frequent third country travellers at the Schengen external borders and enhance EU border security.
Women in Europe work 59 days 'for free' - Equal Pay Day
The size of the gender pay gap, or the average difference between women and men's hourly earnings across the EU, is 16.2% - according to the latest figures released today by the European Commission. The news comes ahead of the 2013 European Equal Pay Day on 28 February. The EU-wide event marks the extra number of days that women would need to work to match the amount earned by men: currently 59 days, meaning this year the day falls on 28 February. To help tackle the pay gap, the Commission is highlighting a series of good practices by companies in Europe which have taken on the problem. It is the third time the Equal Pay Day takes place at European level.