Written by Alexia Maniaki-Griva
This note seeks to provide an initial analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the European Commission’s Impact Assessment (IA) accompanying the above proposal, submitted on 17 January 2014.
In line with the Europe 2020 Strategy, the free movement of workers is considered as a key element in the development of a more integrated EU labour market which allows worker mobility from high unemployment areas to those characterised by labour shortages. It also contributes to finding the right skills for vacant positions and overcoming bottlenecks and mismatches in the labour market. But despite the social and economic benefits it generates, intra-EU labour mobility is still limited, with an annual mobility rate in the EU of 0.29 per cent, and only 3.1 per cent of the European labour force being economically active in another Member State. Surveys show, however, that there is a significant mobility potential within the EU, with 2.9 million EU citizens indicating firm intentions to move in the next 12 months.
Set up in 1993, EURES is a European network for co-operation between the Public Employment Services (‘PES’) of the EEA Member States (the EU countries plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein), on the one hand, and the European Commission, on the other, allowing the exchange of vacancies and employment applications (so-called ‘clearance’). It comprises an internet portal and a network of employment advisers, and accounts for approximately 150 000 placements per year. The main legal base of EURES is provided for in Chapter II of Regulation (EU) 492/2011 which requires Member States’ central employment services to cooperate with one another in exchanging information on vacancies, applications and CVs. The Commission Implementing Decision 2012/733/EU sought to modernise the functioning of EURES by providing more personalised job-matching services and opening it up to employment service providers other than the PES. This Decision has, however, been challenged by the European Parliament before the Court of Justice on the grounds that the Commission exceeded the implementing powers conferred on it by the 2011 Regulation.
Whereas the 2012 Decision brought some changes to the functioning of the EURES network, Chapter II of Regulation 492/2011, which constitutes the regulatory framework for clearance and information exchange between Member States on intra-EU labour mobility, has not been amended since 1992 and no longer reflects, according to the Commission, the changes that have occurred regarding mobility patterns, new technologies for sharing job vacancy data, the diversity of recruitment channels, and the increasing role of other labour market actors, alongside the PES, in provision of recruitment services.
In light of the high unemployment rates, the June 2012 European Council conclusions on the Compact for Growth and Jobs called for the EURES portal to be developed into ‘a true European placement and recruitment tool’ to enhance intra-EU labour mobility. The European Council Conclusions of December 2012, on the 2013 Annual Growth Survey and youth employment, subsequently invited the Commission to propose a new EURES Regulation.