The European Commission consultation for social partners on the labour mobility package
The Commission has expressed its interest to hear the social partners in what priorities should be included in the labour mobility package that is expected to be launched at the end of 2015. The Commission has chosen to focus on the EU social security coordination Regulations and the Posting of Workers Directive (PWD). Eurocadres, however, is of the opinion that these issues are not enough when putting together a labour mobility package. Mobility is a much broader concept that not only has an influence on employment and social policies, but also on education, businesses and migration. Mobility fosters competition and innovations.
The free movement of people is a corner stone of the European Union. It is of paramount importance for Professional and Managerial staff (P&MS) that make up the members of Eurocadres. Eurocadres’ aim is to enhance mobility in Europe, from one task or job to another, across branches and across countries. We unconditionally defend free movement along with fair and decent working conditions, as agreed during the social dialogue; and collective bargaining for all employees – consequently disapproving social dumping. Still, mobility must be a free choice for everyone in Europe. Many young people are forced to leave their home countries to work elsewhere. It has come to our attention that many of these are offered weaker contracts than natives or are exposed to social dumping. We condemn discrimination on the labour market, hence everyone should be treated equally regardless of origin.
We regret that the discussion on current political level in Europe is focused on benefit tourism. De facto, data has shown that Europeans move to other EU countries for work reasons and not for (ab)using social security systems. We hope that the Commission will highlight this fact in the mobility package. We call for a better coordination of social security systems in a way that does not discourage mobility or create lock-in effects. Labour mobility within the EU is low: only 3.3 % of EU citizens work in another EU country. We need more incentives for people to make use of their freedom to move across borders and thereby minimising the labour gap and skills mismatch. Europe is suffering from a substantial skills mismatch: between 25 to 45 percent are either under or over-qualified. To have a functioning and mobile labour market, it requires better information to citizens. Therefore we urge the Commission not to forget the importance of EURES.
We strongly call for attention to the issue of double taxation and the risk of falling between two social security systems when being a frontier worker. We are also in favour of extending the portability of unemployment benefits to six months when seeking a job in another EU country – if we want to create an open labour market, this is a prerequisite for encouraging people to find jobs in other EU countries.
Furthermore, an evaluation of regulated professions is also useful: the great variation between the EU member states on the regulations may be an obstacle for free movement. However, certain sensitive professions must be regulated and more European co-operation in this field is needed. A European Professional Card may be appropriate for certain professions and a useful tool to facilitate movement of professionals. However, the Card itself should not create a division on the labour market between the holders of the Card and the non-holders. A recent initiative by the DG Growth to launch infringement procedures for lack of compliance (Services Directive) in the area of regulated professions was an important step. A proper balance between free movement of services, qualifications and high standards is necessary.
Another aspect we are hoping that the Commission takes into consideration, is the effect of digitalisation on mobility. Especially for P&MS, work is not limited to a given space or time: people can simultaneously live and work in different countries. In this respect the PWD, regulations on social security as well as regulations concerning frontier workers play a huge role, but they are not the only parts of the puzzle. Digitalisation raises questions about taxation, registration and social security. In general, the Commission Strategy on Digital Internal Market did not deal with societal effects. Therefore, Eurocadres appeals the Commission to deepen the Digital IM with analytical work as regards labour market and mobility. Eurocadres would also like to pay attention to the Social Partners' agreement on Telework. Is it up-to-date in the light of the forthcoming "digital labour market"? Should it become a directive aiming at strengthening a smooth transition to Digital Internal Market?
Eurocadres was surprised not to see the topic of trade pacts and mobility in the Commission consultation document. In CETA, TTIP and TiSA negotiations, for instance, mobility has been one of the key topics and it concerns especially Professional and Managerial Staff. Eurocadres finds it necessary that trade pacts and mobility will be a part of the labour mobility package, or the Commission should launch another consultation on this topic.
We strongly urge the Commission to include the recognition of qualifications into the mobility package. Not only for students and researchers is it important to recognise qualifications, but also for highly educated professionals, who tend to be mobile at some stage in their lives. European transparency tools, such as credit systems and qualification levels, have to be more coherent. Eurocadres encourages the Commission to put forward a proposition in view of improving educational mobility instruments. Also, member states have to become more engaged in implementing the European Qualifications Framework (EQF).
Finally, Eurocadres would like to underline the huge importance of the EU programmes such as Erasmus+ and Horizon 2020, which are key instruments fostering mobility. Unfortunately, the share of these programmes in the EU budget is still rather low, which weakens the competitiveness of the EU and prevents a lot of professionals from moving within the European Union.
 Skills mismatch in Europe: statistics brief / International Labour Office, Department of Statistics. - Geneva: ILO, 2014, http://bit.ly/1p1LLdO.