All EU citizens should be free to work anywhere in the EU
Article 39 of the EC treaty states that 'freedom of movement for workers shall be secured within the Community' and that 'such freedom of movement shall entail the abolition of any discrimination based on nationality between workers of the Member States as regards employment, remuneration and other conditions of work and employment.' However nationals of the 'new' member states have had temporary restrictions placed upon them by some of the older member states. The countries with restrictions are; Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovenia and Slovakia. In a time of recession all workers should have the right to travel to where the work is, and that if a country is a member of the EU, nationals of that country should automatically be entitled the same rights as all other EU nationals regardless of their countries date of accession.
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Freedom to look for work is one of the original EU principles
The right for European workers to look for and take up work in other member states has been in place since the European Community was founded in 1957. Free movement is enshrined in European Community legislation via article 39 of the EC treaty, therefore any employer who operates contrary to the treaty is acting illegally and can be taken to court. Flexible labour markets provide great benefits to workers, employers and member states. They are a benefit because the result is the creation of a large pool of talented labour which enables employers to get the right people they need for the job, employees can gain the employment they want and the common market benefits from high employment rates across the continent.
All EU member states should be treated equally
In 2004 the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia were admitted into the EU with Bulgaria and Romania joining in 2007. However a host of the older member states imposed temporary restrictions on these countries which varied from applying for work permits, to having to obtain permission to work from that countries employment office etc. It seems unfair that 75million + people do not have the same rights as the rest of Europe purely because their country was not in a position to join the EU during its initial formative and enlargement periods.
Freedom to work is a benefit to the EU
The fact that the EU has a flexible workforce is of immense benefit. It means that there is a huge, flexible and highly skilled workforce that can be utilised for an employers benefit. It is also likely to bring the EU closer together because the potentially divisive impact of borders has been greatly lessened. It also means that if a particular country has a skill shortage amongst their native population, they have another 26 European states in which they can search for a suitable employee. The same can be said for an employee who cannot find a suitable role for themselves in their native country. How can this vast pool of jobs and labour not be an advantage?
Good for employers
It is in the best interests of employers to have the widest possible pool of potential employees to select from. If the pool is EU wide rather than country wide it increases the number of applicants to choose from. This wider choice means that the employer has a higher chance of finding someone appropriate for the job. Having the best possible employees is vital to a businesses success, and if the EU can improve the odds of businesses being able to get this it should. The EU is predominantly a free trade organisation, and free movement of labour should be included in this.
In times of recession countries should be able to put thier workers first.
National governments represent the population of the country that elected them into office, and it is these peoples interests that should be put first, and these people that governments are primarily accountable towards. For example, if Spain has mass unemployment, and workers from Italy and France where coming in and getting jobs above the native Spanish population then it could be argued that the Spanish government has failed in its duty of care to look after their interests of their electorate, and the Spanish population is well within its rights to hold their government to account by voting them out at the next election in favour of a new administration more likely to protect their interests in a satisfactory manner.
Restrictions on the new member states makes economic sense
When the EU was enlarged in 2004 & 2007 there was a general appreciation that the level of wages & standard of living in the new states was generally lower than in the older EU countries. The EU added transitional arrangements into the accession treaty signed by the new member states, which entitled the existing 15 states to impose restrictions on the freedom of movement of workers from these new states for a maximum of seven years. This was done because it was feared that workers from these new states would flood the labour markets of the existing countries exacerbating unemployment problems, and could also potentially lead to a drop in wages due to the immigrants readiness to work for less money than the native population. The seven year restriction was imposed with the theory that the wages and standard of living in the new countries during this period would rise to a standard similar to that of the original 15, therefore workers would be less likely to seek employment in different countries. This seems like a necessary measure as allowing workers to cheaply flood labour markets could cause tension between nations, thus going against the general ethos of the European Union.
A country may sometimes have good reason to refuse a person right to work
Although all workers have a theoretical right to free movement of their labour throughout the EU, there are some reasons which enable a government to prevent a worker the right to live and work in their country. Article 39, section 3 states that limitations are justified on the grounds of public policy, public security or public health. It makes sense that a person who could possibly be a threat to public security via the threat of terrorism or who may represent a threat to public health should be excluded from the legislation as countries should still have some sort of control over who can and cannot cross their borders.
The free movement of labour is not a free flowing thing that balances out. Because wages and benefits differ across the EU, there are hotspots which offer well paid employment and good state benefits which everyone will want to go to. The UK is an example of one of these. Therefore an excess of cheap labour floods in to undercut the existing workforce. This is harmful for the people who originally lived in the richer countries because they may not want to leave their homes to find work, and should not be forced to by immigrant workers willing to work for lower wages.
As some countries are better to work in than others, the poorer countries which cannot entice their workers to stay will experience a brain drain. This means that skilled workers have a better chance of getting good wages abroad so they leave their home countries creating a hole in the labour market. This is harmful for these economies as they loose out on the people they need to do essential jobs. The EU should not be promoting something which could turn out to be damaging to the industries of its member states.
Unlimited immigration has been good for business and bad for workers.
Unlimited immigration has helped business at the expense of workers. It has driven down the cost of wages to such an extent that some people have seen their wages cut in half. Jobs should be offered to unemployed nationals first.
Borderless States Risk Multiple Threats
After reading both for and against arguments, I am willing to reconsider my view that says 'No' to freedom to work in any EU member state. However, this EU regulation needs extensive reviewing. A simple 'freedom' poses many dangers and while it may seem ideal to have everybody given the freedom to choose where they work, we need to remember that this is not Brazil or the United States, where the member states share the same culture and language. All these member states have their own history and well established cultural norms that have developed into the complex societies that they are today. To simply say, "OK, now go do what you want, where you want", is potentially lethal to the equilibrium of the EU member states (new or old). Proper consideration must be given to the peoples of these differing societies and their unique economies all have different facets to them that may be damaged by total and absolute 'freedom'.
Already in the UK, these freedoms are being abused by Commonwealth member countries who send subjects to the UK, especially London, in droves and allow little opportunity for local subjects to win the better job roles. London has become globally unique for it's ghettos of foreign communities - many of which are not from EU Member states, but from Africa, Asia and South America. The entire working population of planet earth, it seems, wants to come and work in London. You'd be hard pushed to meet an actual Londoner on the streets of London today.
What do you think?