26 February 2002
By the Select Committee appointed to consider European
Union documents and other matters relating to the European Union.
WORKING IN EUROPE: ACCESS FOR ALL
6453/01 Communication from the Commission to
the Council: New European Labour Markets, Open to All, with Access
PART 1: ABSTRACT
1. This report is produced in response to the Commission's
Communication on "New European Labour Markets, Open to All,
with Access for All" (Document 6453/01), submitted to the
Stockholm European Council in March 2001.
2. The principle that, as a single market, the European
Union should comprise an area without internal frontiers is long-established.
One of the Community's key objectives is the abolition of obstacles
to freedom of movement for workers and services between Member
States. Furthermore, free movement within the Union is a right
of EU citizens, added by the Maastricht Treaty and reiterated
recently in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European
Union. While a number of steps have been taken to secure the free
movement of workers, it is clear that barriers inhibiting their
mobility still remain.
3. The Communication identifies the opening up of
European labour markets as one of the ten key areas for policy
action in consolidating and extending the strategy agreed at the
Lisbon European Council in spring 2000. At the Stockholm European
Council it was agreed to create a High Level Skills and Mobility
Task Force. The Task Force was established in June 2001 and published
its final report in December 2001. The Commission will present
an Action Plan, based on the Task Force's report, to the Barcelona
European Council in March 2002.
4. The Commission's objective is to ensure that European
labour markets are efficient and open and accessible to all. It
also aims to deliver full employment in a dynamic, competitive,
knowledge-based economy, in line with the EU's Lisbon strategy.
The Commission has therefore decided to focus efforts on policy
initiatives to remove the remaining barriers to freedom of movement
and to increase the level of skills and their transferability
from one country to another, thus ensuring the effective development
and utilisation of the potential European workforce.
5. The Task Force set up by the Commission considers
that greater labour force mobility, both between jobs (occupational
mobility) and within and between countries (geographical mobility),
will contribute to meeting all of these objectives.
6. In this Report, we
investigate these two types of labour force mobility, examine
how they relate to the Commission's aims, and analyse the policy
7. We first scrutinise the level of geographical
mobility in the EU (Part 2). We examine the relative importance
of geographical mobility against other elements of a flexible
labour market; we consider whether there is a benchmark for an
appropriate level of geographical mobility in the EU; and we assess
the quality of the data on which policy decisions are being made.
8. We then look at some of the perceived barriers
to geographical mobility (Part 3): the economic and administrative
barriers; the need for mutual recognition of qualifications; the
language barrier; and social and cultural barriers.
9. We then consider occupational mobility (Part 4).
We examine the need to improve people's level of basic skills;
the provision of lifelong learning; and the recognition of informal
and non-formal learning. Finally, we study the availability of
information for those who wish to be mobile (Part 5).
10. Part 6 gives our overall conclusions. Our four
key policy recommendations are
- the Commission and Member States need to assemble
significant statistical information on the factors influencing
people's decision whether or not to move;
- the Commission should prioritise the development
of a framework for the mutual recognition of all academic, professional
and vocational qualifications;
- the UK Government, in consultation with the teaching
profession, should progressively develop the National Curriculum
so that it is in line with the Task Force's recommendation that
the teaching of the first foreign language to all pupils start
from age 8 at the latest and continues to age 16; and
- the UK Government should follow the Task Force's
proposal and extend the right to free compulsory education so
that it includes free access to basic skills for all citizens,
regardless of age.
1 Our membership is listed in Appendix 1. Our witnesses
are listed in Appendix 2: we are grateful to all of them. Back