The Eurocadres blog

TTIP should also promote the mobility of workers



The agreement on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) continues to be a hot topic in a number of countries.

Person with back-pack walking.

A fresh analysis from the World Economic Forum shows that TTIP would have positive employment and income effects in many EU countries. On the other side, effects would be minimal in countries such as Germany, France and Italy. The trade unions are demanding that TTIP has to serve citizens; it needs a strong labour chapter and high standards must be preserved.

Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström is advocating for TTIP with a wide scope. It should not only cover “traditional” trade issues, such as tariffs, but also labour related topics, regulatory harmonization and perhaps mobility of people. Mobility in this context means above all movement of professionals.

Mobility of professionals is not a new topic in trade pacts. It is a part of WTO procedures and, for instance, the draft EU-Canada Trade Agreement (CETA) aims at facilitating temporary mobility of professionals and service providers. The CETA agreement would establish a system for recognition of qualifications. Without it, Professional and Managerial Staff  would easily be faced with insurmountable obstacles  when they seek new jobs in other countries. The EU-Canada trade agreement would also improve mobility procedures for spouses and family partners.

What should the European Professionals think of plans to create a common Transatlantic Area with facilitated free movement and system for recognition of qualifications?

They should support it. If certain conditions are met, TTIP could bring about some positive development:

Professionals are mobile workers and they could benefit of lower thresholds between the EU and the USA. Secondly, the European labour market is plagued by high unemployment and scarce opportunities for young people. Finally, the trade and interaction between the USA and the EU is not possible without mobility of professionals. As the Communication of the European Commission “Trade for All” (published October 14, 2015) says it: “The temporary movement of professionals has become essential for all sectors to conduct business internationally. It facilitates exports and provides ways to bridge skills gaps.”

However, the trade related agreements on mobility for professionals must be negotiated in a transparent way. That was not done, for instance, in the case of CETA. In addition, trade agreements should not weaken high standards of competence and education or worsen working conditions.


The author

Markus Penttinen
Vice-President of Eurocadres
Head of International Affairs at Akava, Finland
Follow Markus on Twitter @PenttinenMarkus
The opinions in this article are the author’s own.