Citizens within the 27-member European Union have been free to move to and work in any of the bloc's member countries, in theory. But an EU executive has said certain obstacles need to be removed to improve employment.
The European Commission said Friday it wanted to make it easier for EU citizens to take up a job in fellow member countries. European Labor Commissioner Laszlo Andor said many workers were not aware of their rights, while many employers also sensed a lack of information on what they had to consider when hiring foreign workers from within the EU.
"Unemployment in some EU countries is currently much, much higher than in others," Andor said in a statement. "That's why it's so important to help those who want to find employment in another EU country."
The commissioner said he had prepared draft legislation whereby member states were called upon to set up national support and information centers for foreign employees and domestic companies.
Germans stick at home
Andor also said organizations such as trade unions should be put in a position to represent the interests of foreign workers from the European Union in disputes with local authorities and take cases of obvious discrimination by employers to court.
According to the European Commission, some 11 million people from the bloc are already working in another EU member country. Recent surveys indicated, though, that 15 percent of all EU citizens would not even consider working in another EU nation as they feared too much red tape and discrimination.
Germany has been found most reluctant to look for work in a fellow EU nation, not least due to a very robust domestic labor market and generally good wages for highly qualified staff. Romanians, Irish and Portuguese citizens by contrast have made the most use of the free movement of labor, with every tenth of them having been employed in another EU country.
hg/hc (dpa, AFP)