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Living & Working Guides

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Guides on the EU policy on living and working in the EU.
European driving licence
An estimated 60% of the Union’s population holds a valid driving licence, meaning 300 million citizens. Improving road safety is one of the main objectives of driving licence legislation. Moreover the recognition of driving licences facilitates free movement of citizens. The implementation of a single model throughout the European Union is seen as ensuring greater security.
Proposal on increasing Gender Equality in the Boardrooms of Listed Companies
The European Commission has taken action to break the glass ceiling that continues to bar female talent from top positions in Europe’s biggest companies. The Commission proposes 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. Despite an intense public debate and some voluntary initiatives at national and European level, the situation has not changed significantly in recent years: an incremental average increase of the number of women on boards of just 0.6 percentage points per year has been recorded since 2003. For this reason the Commission is proposing EU legislation to accelerate progress towards a better gender balance on the corporate boards of European companies.
"Science: it's a girl thing!" campaign
With the European Union needing up to one million additional researchers by 2020, the European Commission has launched a campaign to get more girls interested in science and encourage more women to choose research as a career. Women make up more than half the EU's student population and 45 per cent of all doctorates (PhDs), but they account for only one third of career researchers. Women PhD graduates are also still a minority in engineering and manufacturing. The three year campaign will first seek to get teenage girls interested in studying science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM subjects). The focus will then broaden to female students more generally, encouraging them to consider research careers.
EU Strategy towards the eradication of trafficking in Human beings - guide
Hundreds of thousands of people are trafficked in the EU every year. Women and men, boys and girls in vulnerable positions are traded for the purpose of sexual or labour exploitation, removal of organs, begging, domestic servitude, forced marriage, illegal adoption as well as other forms of exploitation. The European Commission today adopted the EU Strategy towards the Eradication of Trafficking in Human Beings (2012-2016), a set of concrete and practical measures to be implemented over the next five years. These include the establishment of national law enforcement units specialised in human trafficking and the creation of joint European investigation teams to prosecute cross-border trafficking cases.
Passenger rights: what passengers with reduced mobility need to know when travelling by air
The European Commission has published guidelines clarifying the rights of disabled passengers and people with reduced mobility when they travel by air. The Guidelines are published before the 2012 London Olympics, specifically to facilitate the travel of participating athletes and many EU citizens with reduced mobility who still come across problems when travelling by air. The guidelines are based on a detailed assessment of the EU Regulation concerning the rights of disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility when travelling by air.
European Citizens' Initiative (ECI) - guide
The European Commission marked Europe Day, 9 May, by registering the very first European Citizens' Initiative. Other proposed initiatives were also due to be added to the online register in the coming days.
Doing business in Austria: Staff welfare
This guide gives brief information on the legislation which directs social rules in the workplace in Austria.
Doing business in Finland: Staff welfare
The Ministry of Employment and the Economy's Strategy and Foresight Unit coordinates equality and equal opportunities matters in Finland, as well as the Ministry's sustainable development policy.
Doing business in Germany: Staff welfare
Social support in Germany is handled via the individual branches of social security: statutory medical, healthcare, pension, unemployment and accident insurance. The legal basis is provided by the Social Security Code (Sozialgesetzbuch) and the specific Acts.
Doing business in Belgium: Staff welfare
Social legislation in Belgium prohibits discrimination and advocates equal opportunity and gender equality. Employers are responsible for promoting welfare within the company.
Doing business in the UK: Staff welfare
Labour legislation covers basic workplace standards which employers must follow. These include protection against discrimination, the right to equal pay and the national minimum wage.
Consultation on the right to family reunification of third-country nationals living in the EU - guide
The European Commission has launched a public debate on the right to family reunification of third-country nationals living in the EU. Depending on the outcome of the consultation, the Commission will decide whether any policy follow-up is necessary – such as setting up clear guidelines, modifying the current rules or leaving the legislation as it is.
EU Smart Borders - easier access and enhanced security
The EU needs a more modern and efficient management of traveller flows at its external borders. Today the European Commission adopted a Communication which sets out the main options for using new technologies to simplify life for foreigners frequently travelling to the EU and to better monitor third-country nationals crossing the borders.
New Visa Information System goes live - guide
The Visa Information System (VIS) started operations as from 08:00 CET today. Visa applications will now be processed much faster thanks to the use of biometrics (fingerprints and a digital facial image) which will facilitate the identification of visa holders and help to avoid identity theft. This new system will allow for a quick and effective exchange of data on short-stay visas among Schengen countries. The VIS will also reinforce the integrity of the system and strengthen trust among its member states. The first consular posts to be connected to the system are those in North Africa (Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia).
Schengen - strengthening the area without internal border controls to guarantee free movement - guide
The European Commission has proposed to strengthen the Schengen area to guarantee free movement for the hundreds of thousands of EU citizens and third countries' nationals travelling within this territory every day. The Commission's proposals aim to put in place a more efficient and EU-based approach to Schengen cooperation. Particular challenges that may put the overall functioning of the Schengen area under strain need to be addressed in an effective and coordinated manner. The proposals provide for a stronger EU-based evaluation and monitoring system to verify and ensure the application of the Schengen rules, and for a more structured European decision-making mechanism that could allow for the temporary reintroduction of internal border controls in case of serious threat to public policy or internal security.
Right of access to a lawyer and communication with a family member - guide
European Commission to guarantee suspects' rights to speak with a lawyer, inform family of arrest
EU framework for national Roma strategies - guide
Europe's 10-12 million Roma continue to face discrimination, exclusion and the denial of their rights, while governments lose out on increased revenue and productivity because potential talent could go wasted. Better economic and social integration is an imperative – but to be effective, concerted action is needed at all levels to address the multiple causes of exclusion. The European Commission is therefore today putting forward a European Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies. This EU Framework will help guide national Roma policies and mobilise funds available at EU level to support inclusion efforts. The Framework focuses on four pillars: access to education, jobs, healthcare and housing. Member States should set individual national Roma integration goals in proportion to the population on their territory and depending on their starting point.
Annual report on the application of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights - guide
The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights has now been legally binding for over a year – primarily on the EU institutions (European Parliament, Council and the European Commission) when preparing new European laws, but also on national authorities if they are implementing EU law. As part of its efforts to make fundamental rights a reality for citizens in the EU, the European Commission is reporting for the first time on how the Charter is being applied. The Annual Report on the application of the Charter shows that fundamental rights are relevant across a wide range of policies – from data protection to immigration and asylum – and that public interest in the Charter runs high. However, the report also highlights that the Charter is frequently misunderstood. In 2010, the Commission received more than 4,000 letters from the general public regarding fundamental rights. Approximately three quarters of these concerned cases outside the remit of EU law. In addition, a recent survey by the European Ombudsman found that 72% of Europeans do not feel well informed about the Charter. Today's report is a first step in addressing these challenges, clarifying where the Charter applies and where it does not. This will ease citizens' access to justice. The report should help citizens determine where they need to turn when they believe that their fundamental rights have been violated by an EU institution or a national authority. The Annual Report is therefore part of the Commission's strategy to ensure that fundamental rights are effectively implemented so that people can rely on them in practice.
Clearer property rights for Europe's 16 million international couples - guide
What happens to your house if you get divorced and your spouse is of another nationality? What happens to a joint bank account if the spouse dies? What happens in such cases if you and your spouse have the same nationality, but you have property or a bank account abroad? In Europe, there are around 16 million international couples, and at least 650,000 of them face these questions every year when their marriage or partnership comes to an end. Citizens lose time and money figuring out which law applies to their case and which court is competent to help them. Legal divergences between the 27 EU Member States create an incentive for "forum shopping" or a "rush to the court." This happens when one spouse – usually the wealthier one – rushes to a court where he/she thinks the outcome will be the most beneficial. The European Commission is therefore proposing EU-wide rules to bring legal clarity to the property rights for married international couples and for registered partnerships with an international dimension. The two proposed Regulations would help identify which law applies to a couple's property rights and the responsible court. The Regulations also provide for rules for recognising and enforcing court judgments on a couple's property in all EU Member States through a single procedure. The proposals are the first deliverable of the Commission's October 2010 Citizenship Report, which outlined 25 major practical obstacles that Europeans still face in their daily lives. Today's proposals are the logical next step following the swift agreement last year on EU legislation to determine which country's rules apply in cross-border divorce cases.
Public consultation on the Professional Qualifications Directive and a European Professional Card - guide
The European Commission on 7 January launched a public consultation on the Professional Qualifications Directive (Directive 2005/36/EC). The consultation is an opportunity for stakeholders to highlight areas of the Directive they feel could be simplified and made more user-friendly. It also seeks views on how to better integrate professionals working in the Single Market, and raises the option of a European Professional Card. This Directive is key to enabling professionals to take full advantage of the potential of the Single Market in finding a job or extending their business in another Member State. Updating this Directive is one of the actions set out in the Single Market Act adopted in October 2010 and follows Commission reports on how the Directive works in practice. The results of the Consultation will feed into an evaluation report and a Green Paper due this autumn. The Commission will come forward with a proposal for modernising the Directive in 2012. Stakeholders are invited to respond until 15 March 2011, and a public hearing is scheduled for 21 February 2011.