EPRSLibrary By / October 26, 2013

Facilitating intra-EU labour mobility

Free movement of workers is a fundamental principle of the European Union enshrined in Article 45 of the Treaty on…

© Kamaga / fotolia

Free movement of workers is a fundamental principle of the European Union enshrined in Article 45 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). Nevertheless, the way in which the rules on free movement of workers are applied can give rise to barriers and discriminatory practices based on nationality.

© Kamaga / fotolia
© Kamaga / fotolia

The means to enforce workers’ rights already exist at the level of Member States, but there is a lack of awareness and consistency in the application of workers’ rights to free movement. Even when national legislation is compliant, public authorities and private employers’ are not aware of EU rules and this lack of knowledge is a major source of discrimination.

Workers also do not know where to turn in the host Member State when they are faced with problems concerning their right to free movement. The European Commission’s proposal would help to ensure effective application of existing legislation. Member states would be required to provide appropriate means of redress at the national level and to give better information to EU migrant workers and employers in general. See also the Library Keysource on Free movement of persons in the EU: how free, under what conditions and for whom?, June 2013


Free movement of workers: Commission improves the application of worker’s rights-frequently asked questions, EC, 26 April 2013.The free movement of workers is one of the key principles of the EU’s single market. While the migrant worker remains employed abroad, he/she can contribute to the economy of the home state via remittances.

Commission seeks to facilitate workers’ movement in the EU/ Fernando Heller, DPA Insight EU, 20 June 2013. The European Commission wants to make it easier for European citizens to exercise their rights to live and work abroad.

Enforcing freedom of movement for workers / CEP PolicyBrief No. 2013-31, 05 August 2013, 4 p.  The Policy Brief lists the pros and contras of the Commission’s proposal and discusses whether the proposed Directive is sufficient to overcome the existing obstacles or not.

The freedom of movement of EU workers : Towards a genuine European labour market, Special Feature in Social Agenda no. 34, August 2013, p. 14-20 which puts the Commission’s proposal in a context and gives some examples on EU and multi-national level initiatives taken so far.


Intra-EU mobility: the ‘second building block’ of EU labour migration policy/ Pascouau, Yves, European Policy Centre and FIERI , EPC Issue paper no. 74, May 2013, 38 p. The author’s proposes improving the use of existing mechanisms as well as the developing new rules to incentivise the exercise of freedom of movement.

Making progress towards the completion of the Single European Labour Market, European Policy Centre, EPC Issue paper no. 75, May 2013, 64 p. The aim of the report is to explore the potential of intra-EU labour mobility to benefit the European (Monetary) Union, individual member-state economies and mobile workers themselves. The authors propose an ambitious and comprehensive strategy for labour mobility.

The European Migrant Workers Union and the barriers to transnational industrial citizenship/ Green Ian et al., European Journal for Industrial Relations,  February 2013, 17 p. A brief article explaining the European Migrant Workers Union, created by the German union IG BAU as it moves away from national protectionism towards transnational organizing.

Study to analyze and assess the impact of possible EU initiatives in the area of freedom of movement for workers, EC, 13 April 2012, 184 p. The EC describes the possible impact of measures aimed at improving the enforcement of citizens’ rights with respect to freedom of movement.

Free movement of workers and rights that can be derived/ Jan Cremers, FMW – Online Journal on free movement of workers No 4, July 2012, p. 26-32. This article provides an overview of many aspects of the free movement of workers in the EU, such as social security, working conditions and labour and contract law.

Report on the application of Regulation 1612/68, Network on Free Movement of Workers, January 2011, 20 p. This report answers questions about anti-discrimination measures.

Geographical and labour market mobility Report, EC, Special Eurobarometer 337, June 2010, 221 p. This survey describes both the Europeans’ mobility experiences and intentions and the reasons that make people move or stay at home.

European Study on Migrant Workers, European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, Eusebio Rial González et al., 58 p. This study gives an overview of migration in different EU countries and several examples of actions to benefit migrant workers.


UEAPME position on proposal for a directive on measures facilitating the exercise of rights conferred on workers in the context of freedom of movement for workers – COM (2013) 236 final, 16/7/2013

EU’s proposal on application of workers’ rights to free movement: Positive signal from the Commission both expected and needed, ETUC, May 2013. The European Trade Union Confederation welcomes the EU’s proposal on applying workers rights to free movement.

Country approach

National Reports on the Free Movement of Workers, Centre for Migration Law of the Radboud University Nijmegen. Annual country reports on the implementation of EU free movement law in the Member States. Year coverage: 2002-2012


International Migration Outlook 2013, OECD, 2013, p. 423. Chapter 5 of this paper provides statistics on recent labour trends and integration policies in OECD countries.

Foreign citizens accounted for 7% of total employment in the EU27 IN 2012, Eurostat, 88/2013, June 2013, 4 p. This press release summarizes survey results on the employment and unemployment rates of nationals of other countries.

Mobility in Europe 2011, EC, November 2011,108 p. This report stresses the labour market context for mobility and the relation between migration and cross-border commuting.

Related Legislative Procedure

OEIL Procedure files

Free movement of workers: measures facilitating the exercise of rights conferred on workers, 2013/0124 (COD)/

Freedom of movement for workers within the Union, 2010/0110(COD)/

Promoting workers’ mobility within the European Union 2010/2273(INI)/

Educational and occupational mobility of women in the EU 2013/2009(INI)/

EP Parliamentary Questions and Debates – 7th legislative term

Free movement of workers within the EU, E-006353/2013, David Casa (PPE), 04-06-2013

EU rules on freedom of movement, P-004500-13, Marek Siwiec (S&D), 22-4-2013

Free movement of workers in the OCTs — principle of non-discrimination, E-011518-12, Maurice Ponga (PPE), 18-12-2012

Restrictions on free movement of workers,O-000323/2011, Stephen Hughes, Rovana Plumb, Hannes Swoboda, on behalf of the S&D Group, 7-12-2012

Review of Regulation (EEC) No 1612/68 on freedom of movement for workers within the Community, H-000203/2011,Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), 2-5-2012

Freedom of movement of workers and recruitment of staff in the EU, E-009500/2011, Jutta Steinruck (S&D), 21-10-2011

Restriction of employment agencies’ access to the market, E-008685/2011, Heide Rühle (Verts/ALE), 4-10-2011

European ‘job fair’ websites hinder free movement of workers, E-008545/2011, Ulrike Rodust (S&D), 26-9-2011

Free movement of workers, coordination of social security systems and measures for migrants, including migrants from third countries,E-007766/2011, Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), 25-8-2011

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