EESC opinion: Identification of outstanding barriers to mobility in the internal labour market

Key points:

Mobility in Europe should remain one of the EU's political priorities, especially at a time when Europe is being forced to face up to the challenges of globalisation and technological transformation and contend with declining demographic trends and the fallout from the financial and economic crisis.

The EESC supports the European Commission's European Job Mobility Action Plan 2007-2010 and its intention to publish a Green Paper on the mobility of young people in 2009 and calls for action to unlock the full potential of the EURES, European Employment Services system.

The EESC invites the Member States to take account of the mobility dimension in all political decisions.

The EESC generally supports the efforts to enhance the coordination of social security at Community level, and once again calls for the implementing regulation for Regulation No 883/2004 to enter into force as soon as possible.

In one of its future opinions it would like to focus in particular on how Regulation 883/2004 ties in with other pertinent legislation and the relevant decisions of the ECJ with a view to ensuring greater transparency, legal security and compliance with the principle of equality in the Member States.

While the EESC welcomes the proposal for a directive on the portability of pensions, it harbours serious concerns regarding its content. The Committee considers that the directive does not, in fact, help remove the principal barrier to cross-border mobility and the portability of pension rights – namely, double taxation.

The EESC calls for action to unlock the full potential of all EUROPASS tools, especially EUROPASS mobility. As regards the European Qualifications Framework (EQF), the EESC considers that it is crucial to establish ties with the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System in the area of higher education, vocational training and training in general. If the EQF is to bring added value, it must remain simple, reliable and really help managers recruit the foreign workers they need.

The EESC noted with interest the second European Commission report of 18 November 2008 on the application of transitional periods for the new Member States and calls on those Member States which continue to apply transitional arrangements with regard to the free movement of persons to respect the findings of this report and to follow the procedures arising from the treaties.

The EESC sees the European Commission's current legislative proposals to facilitate economic migration from third countries as a further step to promote mobility and economic migration within Europe.

The EESC fully respects the independence of the European social partners and expects them to actively contribute to increasing mobility in order to improve the situation on the labour market and to boost EU's competitiveness.

The EESC calls upon the Member States and the Commission to work together to conceive non-discriminatory social reintegration programmes aimed at citizens and their families returning to States in which they have lived or resided, after having worked for a period of time in another Member State.