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European Union and Free Movement of Labour - Essay Example

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In applying for EU membership, the ten CEE candidate states are aspiring to become members of an enlarged, pan-European area for free movement of labour. From an economic point of view, free movement of labour has been part of the project of achieving equality of opportunity within the EU by dismantling obstacles to the mobility of factors of production…
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European Union and Free Movement of Labour
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Download file to see previous pages However, in wider political terms, the tolerance of the principle of free labour movement is an important signal of a willingness to treat the citizens of one EU member state as welcome within any other' (Wallace 2004: 3).
In the last couple of decades, EU labour migration policies have been largely aimed at preventing labour migration from outside while encouraging labour mobility inside. The eastern enlargement of the EU presents a case whereby, according to the logic of enlargement, nationals coming from the accession states would be treated more like members and would be allowed access to the EU labour market.
An increasing migration trend since the 1990s has been the search for temporary--as opposed to permanent--migration, especially from the CEE countries. This kind of migration does not involve residential settlement and does not pose a burden on the welfare states in Western Europe--short-term, income-seeking migrants will usually not draw any public welfare provisions they are entitled to receive (such as medical insurance, social security and unemployment benefits) from the home country. The great majority of Poles, Czechs and Hungarians who contemplate possibilities for migration think of it as a supplement to (not replacement of) their home-country earnings (Morawska 2000). The trend towards temporary migration is demonstrated in a May 2001 survey on labour movement from the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria after accession. Twelve per cent of them intended to work for longer than two years and 13 per cent to settle permanently (CEORG 2001). These forms of migration target the country of origin in the end, because the transfers of money and skills emanating from these movements are, in turn, leading to further economic growth within the sending countries (Langewiesche 2000: 15). An increasing tendency in Eastern Europe is incomplete migration' (Okolski 2001). This is a form of mass mobility of very short duration, often documented as tourism, which involves petty trade in cross-border regions.
Although the expansion of the EU towards the east will create immigration to the EU member states, it will not lead to significant numbers of immigrants from the new states. A study conducted by the European Integration Consortium at the request of the Employment and Social Affairs Directorate General of the European Commission on the impact of eastern enlargement on employment and wages in the EU concludes that one should not fear massive immigration. According to the study, the number of foreign residents from the CEE countries in the EU would increase annually by around 335,000 immediately after the introduction of free movement of persons. The issue of free movement of labour became prominent during the negotiations for accession between the EU and Greece, Portugal and Spain in the 1980s. It resulted in transition periods for the mobility of labour. Greece joined the European Community in 1981 and only in 1986 was its labour force allowed to move freely in the EU. Spain and Portugal entered the EU in 1986 with restrictions on labour movement ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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