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Intra-EU mobile workers facing difficulties in the labour market

Even in the absence of legal hurdles by comparison with third-country national migrant workers a new report shows that intra-EU mobile workers also face similar difficulties in the labour market, with generally lower employment probabilities and lower quality jobs for the same level of skills.

by EUToday Correspondents
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The report was conducted by the European Trade Union Institute.

Intra-EU mobility flows are large and are particularly important in sectors that make heavy use of posted workers, subcontracted workers and seasonal workers, such as agriculture, meat processing, road freight transport and construction.

Intra-EU movers are considered, in some way, rather privileged migrants compared to migrants in general.

However, as detailed in this paper they also face difficulties in the labour market. As a good illustration, within European policy debates, there is an insistence that mobility within the EU is not migration and such workers are usually called ‘mobile EU citizens’.

Consequently, too little is known about short-term moves and mobility across borders, while seasonal labour flows in particular are often missed despite their important impact on labour markets, especially in receiving countries.

‘Our research indicates that short-term mobile workers face high risks of working on temporary – and especially very short-term – contracts and in low-skill occupations’, explain Wouter Zwysen and Mehtap Akgüç, ETUI senior researchers and co-authors of the report.

‘These mobile workers tend to work below their level of skills and qualifications and for lower pay than would be expected in the receiving country – even if it is above the pay in the country of origin.

This matters as it opens the door to exploitation and to downward pressure on the jobs and conditions of workers in the receiving country.’

Intra-EU movers are between five and 10 percentage points less likely to be employed than those who did not move; and they work in lower status jobs.

There is substantial variation between regions of origin, however.

For instance, movers from central and eastern Europe, or Baltic countries, have relatively low employment gaps, at around five percentage points lower than those in their receiving countries, but they also work in much lower status jobs.

Those moving from western European and Nordic countries are less often employed but, when in work, they tend to work in jobs which are better than those residing in the receiving country.

There is also a difference in motivation between movers: whereas a higher share of movers from central and eastern, eastern Europe or Baltic countries come mainly for jobs or to look for work, there are likely to be different motivations (potentially non-economic, e.g. family reasons) among those moving from western or Nordic countries.

Image: By Jim.henderson – Own work, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8738882

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