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Jean Lambert London's Green MEP

Issue: Mobility

Jean’s Work On EU Mobility

Jean Lambert, a member of the European Parliament’s Employment and Social Affairs Committee is recognised as one of the most prominent MEPs on the issue of Mobility for her continued work including:

  • Jean was Rapporteur for Parliament’s Report on the co-ordination of social security systems (otherwise known as 1408/71).
  • Jean has worked extensively with the European Citizen Action Service and for the past few years has held a Hearing in Strasbourg with them on the issue of free movement of people.
  • Jean was a keynote speaker at the high level launch of the Year of Workers mobility speaking alongside Commissioner Spidla and ETUC Secretary General John Monks.
  • Jean hosted the launch of the ECAS report on worker migration.
  • Jean has consistently called for re-evaluation of the transitional measures that are currently imposed by the majority of “Old” Member States.

“Free movement of workers is one of the four fundamental freedoms of the EU. The transitional period makes New Member State integration difficult. This ‘Year of Mobility’ is a perfect opportunity for Member States to demonstrate their commitment to equality in the EU.”
Jean Lambert MEP

 

Working in Old Member States

Rules which were laid down in the accession treaties allow EU countries to decide whether they want to apply transitional measures. These measures place restrictions on workers from the accession countries who want to work in “old member states” and can be enforced for the first seven years following accession.

Decisions are made and then re-evaluated on a regular basis. Restrictions can remain in place for up to seven years but some countries lifted them early. In 2004, for example, the UK, Ireland and Sweden decided against enforcement of the transitional measures. Following a commission report on the issue, Member States had to announce by May 1st 2006 whether they too wanted to open their labour markets.

The Commission Report was published in early February 2006 outlining the situation and some of the key problems and findings including:

  • No statistical proof of increased migration flow into countries with lifted measures
  • Positive influence on labour markets of countries with no transitional measures
  • Increased illegal labour in countries who have not lifted transitional meaures

 

Who’s Still Afraid of EU Enlargement?

In September 2006, the European Year of Workers’ Mobility, Jean Lambert hosted the launch of the European Citizen Action Service (ECAS) report on workers migration, “Who’s Still Afraid of EU Enlargement?

The report concludes that although European citizens associate the EU with freedom of movement, expectations of EU citizens are not being met and barriers are still being put up by some Member States. This is to the detriment of the EU economy, missing a golden opportunity to boost growth and meet the challenge of an ageing economy.

The report, which is based on collection of data since enlargement, compares the experiences of the EU 25 and provides a series of recommendations including:

  • Migrants should be better informed about what to expect from their employment destination, in particular issues about registration and the cost of living should be highlighted. Ireland’s ‘Know before you go’ initiative is a good example of best practise.
  • The need for more reliable figures, particularly of migrants returning home.

“The findings of the ECAS report add to the body of evidence confirming the positive impact of enlargement and workers mobility, which should dispel the unfounded fears still held by EU Member States. The concerns used by many Member States to justify the imposition of restrictions have proved unfounded – there has been no flood of migrants, welfare of otherwise.”
Jean Lambert MEP

The report highlights the fact that not only do migrant workers fill jobs that national workers do not want, jobs provided in one country provide an important boost to the EU as a whole with migrants remittances higher than the level of international aid. Moreover, circular migration increases skills and knowledge.

While we are often fed scare stories about Polish plumbers and floods of Romanians and Bulgarians entering the UK, it is interesting to note that the EU nationals most inclined to migrate are from Ireland, Denmark, Sweden and Slovakia. Romanians and Bulgarians would rather migrate to Spain, Portugal and Italy than to the UK as these countries are more linguistically and culturally similar.Click here to download the full report