International trade and mobility of professionals & managers
The mobility aspect in free trade agreements is essential for professionals and managers. On the one hand, professionals and managers need to have the opportunity to be mobile and they would benefit of less obstacles between the EU and other countries. On the other hand, trade and interaction between third countries and the EU is not possible without mobility of professionals and highly qualified work force.
Therefore, trade agreements should facilitate mobility of professionals and managers. They should also establish a balanced system for recognition of qualifications as well as improved mobility possibilities for family members. Visa requirements are a part of trade related mobility arrangements as the USA-Australia free trade agreement from 2005 shows (so called E3 visa).
However, the negotiations of trade related agreements must be transparent and democratic. Trade agreements should not weaken working conditions, quality of education or consumer and environmental protection.
Against this background, Eurocadres would like to stress and propose the following matters:
- The EU should demand a mobility agreement with the USA as part of TTIP; using the Australia-USA free trade agreement as example. An annual quota of 100.000 professionals from the EU to the USA a should be established. USA professionals are likewise welcome to the EU.
- Eurocadres does not support the new proposal to introduce visas for US citizens. That would create a new obstacle for transatlantic mobility making it also more difficult to fix quotas for highly-skilled from the EU to the USA.
- Trade agreements may facilitate free movement only of certain groups of professionals. As a result, some highly-skilled groups, for instance, in the field of research, science and education risk being left out. It is of capital importance that mobility is facilitated for all highly skilled groups of the workforce.
- It is necessary to establish a permanent dialogue with the European bodies of professionals and the EU institutions as regards the topic of free trade agreements and mobility of professionals, in view of increased transparency.
- The report of the European Parliament resolution of 3 February 2016 containing the European Parliament’s recommendations to the Commission on the negotiations for the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) (2015/2233(INI)) states that commitments of free movement must only apply to highly skilled professionals, such as persons holding a university or equivalent master's degree (section 1. (d) ii). Eurocadres deems it important that this definition covers also persons graduated from the polytechnics (universities of applied science). The definition of the scope of free movement must be clear enough (and not to allow any misuse and to avoid any "loopholes"), but simultaneously it cannot constitute an obstacle to free movement.
- Lack of data and statistics in relation to mobility of persons under the trade agreements is evident. The Commission, WTO and other relevant bodies should soon conduct a study and compiling a basic overview of movement of people in the scope of trade agreements. Thereafter, an annual report on the development of mobility is needed, like on trade flows. It would be necessary to have data also on gender, age and on different professions (researchers, architects, engineers, teachers, business-experts etc.).
- Knowing that facilitation of mobility of professionals underlines the importance of the recognition of qualifications. More efforts need to be undertaken to create well-working systems for this purpose.
- The aim of mobility provisions in free trade agreements is to facilitate movement of professionals and a highly qualified workforce. However, mobility arrangements may not lead to developments which will create more complicated structures and rules regulating mobility. References to several EU Directives, such as, on intra-company transfers of third country nationals, on posting of workers, on the Blue Card, on recognition of qualifications, on visa admission and rules etc. make the whole area so complex that "ordinary" employers and professionals have difficulties to understand criteria and procedures. In the light of the EU goal of "Better Regulation" this is anything but ideal. It would be also important to increase the transparency of mobility rules by providing easy accessible and clear information on the internet.