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Free movement: Commission publishes study on integration of mobile EU citizens in six cities



Free_MovementEU citizens go to other EU countries mainly for job opportunities and are on average younger and more likely to be working. This is confirmed by a new, independent study on the impact of the right to move freely within the EU which was published today (11 February).

The study focuses on six European cities, chosen for the multinational composition of their population (see Annex 1-2): Barcelona, Dublin, Hamburg, Lille, Prague and Turin. It shows that for all six cities the inflow of younger, working age EU citizens has had a positive economic impact. For example in Turin, a local evaluation shows that tax revenues from foreigners on the whole brought a net benefit of €1.5 billion  to national public finances (see Annex 3). The study also shows that newcomers have helped fill gaps in local labour markets, contributed to growth in new sectors and have helped balance out ageing populations. It finds that mobile citizens are often overqualified for the jobs they take up, may be paid less and at the same time do not always benefit from the same access to housing and education.

"Free movement is a benefit for Europe, its citizens and its economies. There can indeed be challenges in some cities which need to be addressed. It would, however, be the wrong response to question the right to free movement. I believe we need to work together – at European, national and local level – to turn challenges into opportunities. These examples from the cities of Barcelona, Dublin, Hamburg, Lille, Prague and Turin show that it can be done," said Vice President and Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship Commissioner Viviane Reding, speaking at a mayors' conference on free movement taking place today (IP/14/98).

“You can count on the Commission to continue assisting member states in confronting any challenges linked to free movement. Today’s meeting with mayors will help local authorities from around Europe draw on the best examples of successful policies of integrating EU citizens into cities, to everyone's benefit. I look forward to seeing such good practices being rolled out Europe-wide."

The main findings of the study are:

  • EU citizens move mainly because of job opportunities and are, on average, younger and more economically active than the local population in the cities examined (see Annex 4);
  • the inflow of younger, working age EU citizens in the selected cities is helping to address the demographic challenges of an ageing population and a shrinking labour force, and;
  • they are also helping to fill gaps in the labour market, either taking up mainly low-skilled jobs (Turin and Hamburg), contributing to growth of new sectors (such as ICT in Dublin), or helping create new business ventures (as in Turin and Hamburg).

The study also outlines the following challenges:

  • Mobile citizens are more likely to be overqualified than nationals (taking up jobs below their qualification) which could imply a wasting of skills, mitigating the potential benefits of intra-EU mobility;
  • wage differentials emerged in some cases between nationals and mobile EU citizens (who most often earn less), although evidence is quite limited, and;
  • mobile citizens do not always benefit from the same opportunities in terms of housing and inclusion of children in schools, although they work and pay taxes.

The success of the integration programmes in place in the six cities is evidenced by the fact that attitudes towards mobility are gradually improving (see Annex 5). All the cities examined are promoting an inclusive environment and a welcoming culture, through policies such as accessible information (one-stop shop information services for example); support for language learning; and intercultural dialogue and interaction among citizens.

Finally, the study identifies a series of best practices from the cities examined (see Annex 6).


The study was presented at a meeting today with more than 100 mayors and representatives of local authorities from around Europe who met to discuss current challenges and opportunities to do with the free movement of EU citizens in the European Union. The Conference of mayors is designed to help local authorities share best practices in implementing free movement rules and tackling social inclusion challenges. The meeting is one of five actions presented by the Commission to strengthen the right to free movement in the EU, while helping member states to reap the positive benefits it brings (IP/13/1151).

The study analyzes policies aimed at economic and social inclusion of EU mobile citizens, and at promoting a welcome culture and a positive attitude towards foreign nationals. It considered policies in the field of employment, entrepreneurship, housing, education, inter-cultural dialogue, attitudes towards migration and participation in city life.

More information

Study: Evaluation of the impact of the free movement of EU citizens at local level

Annex to the study: Good practices from six cities

Frequently Asked Questions: Free movement explained

European Commission: Free movement

Homepage of Vice President Viviane Reding

Follow the Vice President on Twitter:@VivianeRedingEU

ANNEX: Trends and patterns in the six cities

1. Total population composition in the six cities in 2011

The six cities vary significantly in terms of waves of migration they have experienced. Notably, Lille and Hamburg have a long migration history. On the contrary, the inflow of EU mobile citizens is a recent phenomenon in Dublin, Barcelona, Turin, with increasing inflows following the 2004 and 2007 enlargements. Finally, Prague has evolved from simply a transit route to a target country only recently.

Source: National Statistical Offices, Note: TCNs = Third Country Nationals

2. Composition of EU mobile citizens by country of origin in the six cities

In some cities, one or two nationalities make up the bulk of EU mobile citizens. This is the case in Turin, where 91.8% of EU mobile citizens are from Romania, and in Prague, where 52.5% of EU mobile citizens come from Slovakia. In other cities, although more EU nationalities are represented, two national groups prevail: in Lille (Lille Métrople Communauté Urbaine data) 30.2% of EU mobile citizens come from Portugal and 25.8% from Belgium; in Barcelona, citizens from Italy and France account respectively for 31.6% and 16.6% of EU mobile citizens. Finally, Hamburg and Dublin show a definitively fragmented picture, since these cities host a high number of different communities (despite the relevance of some national groups such as Polish, significant in both cities).

Source: National Statistical Offices

3. Free movement of citizens: A benefit to the economy of Turin

An evaluation carried out at national level by caritas migrantes shows that tax revenues from foreigners on the whole brought a net benefit of €1.5bn  to national public finances: the high amount of social security taxes paid by foreigners, in addition to other direct and indirect taxes, extensively overcomes the costs of social services provided for them.

4. Employment rates in the six countries/cities


Source: Eurostat


Source: Eurostat


Source: Statistik der Bundesagentur für Arbeit

Czech Republic

Source: Eurostat

4. Activities of EU mobile citizens in the six cities

Note: Specific data on EU citizens in each city are not always available. Data may be for all foreigners or for the whole region or country.

Barcelona (Spain)

Share of employed EU mobile citizens per level of qualification and skills required in Catalonia (2011)

Source: CCOO Cataluña

EU mobile citizens are quite polarised in Catalonia with approximately a third employed in jobs with low or no level of qualification (32.4%), and a third in jobs with high level of qualification (30.3%)

Dublin (Ireland)

EU mobile citizens and Irish citizens per occupation in Ireland


Source: CSO, Population census 2011

Although, in Ireland, the distribution of EU and non-EU workers across sectors is substantially in line with that of nationals, the former are more likely to be employed in some sectors, such as manufacturing (25.5% of foreign workers are employed, compared to 21% of Irish nationals) and accommodation and food (16.4% of foreign workers take up jobs here, against 8.5% of nationals).

Nationals’ and foreigners’ distribution per employment sectors in Ireland (2011)


Source: Quarterly household national survey Q1 2011

On the whole, the distribution of foreign nationals on the labour market is biased towards lower skilled sectors.


Employee per profession – data for nationals, EU mobile citizens and non-EU nationals in Hamburg in 2012


Source: Statistik der Bundesagentur für Arbeit, Data refers to the 30/6

The chart shows that in Hamburg a small share of EU mobile citizens are employed in organizational, administrative and other white-collar occupations (20%), as compared to nationals (29.1%), whereas they are largely more present in transport and logistical occupations (e.g. train, truck or taxi drivers, pilots) or as nutrition professionals (e.g. cooks, bakers, butchers).


Nationals, EU mobile citizens and non-EU nationals (between 25 and 64 years) per employment sectors in the Nord Pas de Calais Region (2007)


Source: INSEE, population census 2009

As far as the main sectors of activity are concerned, EU mobile citizens, when compared to Nationals, work more in the industry and construction sectors.

Nationals, EU mobile citizens and non-EU nationals per occupation in the Lille Métropole Commnauté Urbaine (2009)


Source: INSEE, Population census 2009

Focusing on the occupational structure of EU mobile citizens who are actively employed in the Lille Métropole Commnauté Urbaine, they mainly belong to the working class (33.3%) and to the employee category (25.6%).


Foreign nationals registered at labour offices by level of occupation, in Prague in 2010

Source: Directorate of Alien Police; foreigners registered at labour offices - Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs

With reference to the skills/occupational level, considering total foreign nationals in Prague, in 2010 the largest share was in elementary occupations (21,560), employing 28.2% of foreign nationals registered at labour offices.


New Employees by sector in Turin province in 2011

Source: Turin Chamber of Commerce, 2011

EU mobile citizens in the Province of Turin tend to be highly concentrated in certain sectors, in particular Construction (15.3%) and the Domestic working sectors (49.1%).

5. Integration policies are working: Attitudes are improving

Evolution of negative perception of foreign national by citizens in Barcelona (2007-12):

Source: Enquesta Òmnibus Municipal. Barcelona City Council.

6. Good practice examples from the six cities

City Project Summary
Barcelona BCN Anti-Rumours Barcelona aims to combat stereotypes and myths about cultural diversity, through surveys, communication activities and engaging local associations and companies. The project is a simple and effective way to build a more cohesive society and foster inclusion in the local community.
Barcelona Barcelona Activa A programme to support entrepreneurs moving to the city, with EU support. 1,300 people have followed information sessions and 600 have received training in entrepreneurship. The programme also facilitates access to professional services.
Dublin Failte Isteach A community project offering conversational English classes taught by older volunteers. The project harnesses the skills, experience and enthusiasm of senior citizens to help meet the needs of foreign residents struggling due to language barriers, but also serves to break down cultural barriers by extending a friendly welcome to newcomers.
Hamburg We are Hamburg! Won’t you join us? A campaign to promote openness to other cultures in local authorities and recruit young foreigners in the Hamburg public services. 500 training places were offered in the police, fire service, prisons and courts, resulting in an increase in foreign residents of the city following apprenticeships.
Lille International Label A project launched by the local university to promote inclusion of foreign students and mobility of its own students. The International Label is awarded to students who have followed an intercultural module, language course and mobility programme as part of their diploma.
Prague Libraries for All Part of a wider European project to provide multilingual services through public libraries to promote inclusion. Services include books in other languages as well as language and IT courses for foreign residents.
Turin Start a Business The local chamber of commerce, tax and social security offices joined forces to provide support and advice to foreigners in the process of starting a new business. The project included a training course for foreign residents wanting to become entrepreneurs.


#COVID-19 - How the EU fights youth unemployment  



A youth craftswoman is checking dimensions of finished plastic window using measuring tape ©JackF/AdobeStock  

Youth unemployment remains a key concern in the wake of the coronavirus crisis. Find out more about an EU initiative to help young people find work. COVID-19 could lead to the emergence of a "lockdown generation", as the crisis hits young people’s job prospects. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO) the pandemic is having a "devastating and disproportionate" impact on youth employment, while the most recent figures show that young people face major obstacles in continuing training and education, moving between jobs and entering the labour market.

Reducing youth unemployment in coronavirus times

Before the pandemic, EU youth unemployment (15-24) was 14.9%, down from its peak of 24.4% in 2013. In April 2020, it rose to 15.7%. The European Commission’s summer 2020 economic forecast predicts that the EU economy will shrink 8.3% in 2020, the deepest recession in the EU's history. To offset the impact on young people, the Commission has proposed a new initiative: Youth Employment Support.

Check out the timeline of EU measures to tackle the COVID-19 crisis.

The Youth Employment Support Package consists of: 
  • A reinforced Youth Guarantee;
  • improved vocational education and training;
  • renewed impetus for apprenticeships, and;
  • additional measures to support youth employment.

The Commission wants EU countries to increase their support for the young through the ambitious NextGenerationEU recovery plan and the future EU budget. Member states should invest at least €22 billion for youth employment. Parliament and EU governments will discuss the proposals in the framework of negotiations on the EU's next long-term budget.

What is the Youth Guarantee?

Launched at the peak of the youth employment crisis in 2013, the Youth Guarantee aims to ensure people under the age of 25 get a good-quality offer of employment, continued education, an apprenticeship or a traineeship within four months of becoming unemployed or leaving formal education.

A reinforced Youth Guarantee 

  • Covers young people aged 15 - 29 (previously the upper limit was 25).
  • Reaches out to vulnerable groups, such as minorities and young people with disabilities. 
  • Provides tailored counselling, guidance and mentoring.
  • Reflects the needs of companies, providing the skills required and short preparatory courses.

In a resolution on EU Employment Guidelines adopted on 10 July, MEPs called for a revision of the forthcoming guidelines in light of the Covid-19 outbreak, underlining the need to tackle youth unemployment through a reinforced Youth Guarantee.

In July Parliament also backed an increase in the budget for the Youth Employment Initiative, the main budgetary instrument for Youth Guarantee schemes in EU countries, to €145 million for 2020.

Parliament called for a significant increase in funding for the implementation of the Youth Employment Initiative in a resolution on the EU's next long-term budget adopted in 2018. MEPs liked how the initiative has supported young people, but said improvements are needed, including an extension of the age limit and the setting of clear quality criteria and labour standards.

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Conservative Party

Sunak pledges 30 billion pounds to stem unemployment crisis



Britain’s finance minister has promised an additional £30 billion to head off an unemployment crisis, funnelling money to employers, homebuyers and beleaguered hospitality firms to drive a recovery, write Andy Bruce and David Milliken.

Rishi Sunak (pictured), who was already on course to take state borrowing to World War Two levels with £133bn of initial coronavirus emergency measures, said he would return the public finances to a sustainable footing over the medium term.

But the former Goldman Sachs analyst promised to press on with using the power of the state to shore up the economy, which has forced his Conservative Party to suspend its traditional pro-market instincts.

“I want every person in this House and in the country to know that I will never accept unemployment as an unavoidable outcome,” Sunak told parliament on Wednesday.

The world’s sixth-biggest economy shrank by 25% in March and April and could be heading for its biggest fall in 300 years in 2020, with the unemployment rate on course to more than double to about 10%, according to official projections.

Under a new bonus plan, employers will be paid 1,000 pounds ($1,256) after the furlough scheme expires at the end of October for every worker who returns to their job, provided they are kept on through to the end of January.

With more than 9 million jobs covered by the scheme, the cost of the bonuses could be as much as £9.4 billion pounds.

To help hospitality and tourism, hampered by social distancing rules, Sunak announced a cut in value-added tax for the sector to 5% from 20% for six months.

People eating out in August between Monday and Wednesday will receive a 50% discount of up to 10 pounds each, paid for by the government.

Shares in pubs and restaurant firms rose.

With close to 45,000 confirmed coronavirus-linked deaths, Britain has been hit harder by the pandemic than any other European country, leaving many people reluctant to return to life as before.

Sunak’s plan includes a £2bn ($2.5bn) fund to create six-month work placement jobs for unemployed 16-24 year-olds and more government-funded apprenticeships.

A further £3bn will be spent on improving the energy efficiency of homes and public buildings, which would support more than 100,000 jobs.

The £30bn cost of the plan includes around £5.6bn in accelerated infrastructure spending announced last week by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Some employers had urged Sunak to go further by cutting the social security contributions they must pay for their workers.

In a bid to breathe life into the housing market and the broader economy, Sunak raised the lower threshold for a tax on property purchases to £500,000, four times its current level, with immediate effect until 31 March.

Economists said the plan was unlikely to accelerate Britain’s recovery from the crisis.

“Overall this wasn’t a massive fiscal package, with other countries like Germany announcing much larger fiscal packages,” Jing Teow, an economist at PwC, said.

As well the uncertainties about how the pandemic will proceed, Sunak has to contend with the possibility London and Brussels fail to agree a post-Brexit trade deal by the end of this year.

“The chancellor is likely keeping his powder dry until the autumn,” Teow said, referring to a formal budget statement Sunak is due to deliver in late 2020.

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Commission launches #YouthEmploymentSupport - A bridge to jobs for the next generation



The Commission is using this opportunity to ingrain the green and digital transitions in the DNA of the EU's youth and employment policies. With NextGenerationEU and the future EU budget, the Commission already proposed significant EU financing opportunities for youth employment. It is now for the Member States to prioritise these investments. At least €22 billion should be spent on youth employment support.

An Economy that Works for People Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis said: “It is more important than ever that we help the next generation of Europeans to thrive and get on the jobs ladder, especially at this time of crisis. We are proposing clear and specific ways forward for our young people to get the professional chances that they deserve. Today's proposals also set out what EU funding is available to support Member States in boosting youth employment. By investing in the youth of today, we will help to create a competitive, resilient and inclusive labour market for tomorrow.”

Jobs and Social Rights Commissioner Nicolas Schmit said: “Now is the time to carry out much-needed reforms of the support measures we offer to young people. We owe it to the millions of graduates and those taking their early steps on the labour market to mobilise all the support we can. Our youth deserve the very best opportunities possible to develop their full potential.”

Youth Employment Support: A bridge to jobs for the next generation

The Youth Employment Support package is built around four strands that together provide a bridge to jobs for the next generation:

  • The EU created the Youth Guarantee in 2013 and has since built bridges to the labour market for some 24 million young people. The Commission's proposal for a Council Recommendation on a Bridge to Jobs reinforces theYouth Guarantee and steps up the outreach to vulnerable young people across the EU, now covering people aged 15 - 29. The Recommendation keeps the pledge that if you sign up to the Youth Guarantee, you will receive an offer of employment, education, apprenticeship or training within four months. Bridge to Jobs will be more inclusive to avoid any forms of discrimination, with a wider outreach to more vulnerable groups, such as youth of racial and ethnic minorities, young people with disabilities, or young people living in some rural, remote or disadvantaged urban areas. It will link in with the needs of companies, providing the skills required - in particular those for the green and digital transitions - and short preparatory courses; and it will provide tailored counselling, guidance and mentoring.
  •  The Commission's proposal for a Council Recommendation on vocational education and training aims to make systems more modern, attractive, flexible and fit for the digital and green economy. More agile, learner-centred vocational education and training will prepare young people for their first jobs and gives more adults opportunities to enhance or change their careers. It will help vocational education and training providers to become centres of vocational excellence, while supporting diversity and inclusiveness.
  •  A renewed impetus for apprenticeships will benefit both employers and young people, adding a skilled labour force to a wide range of sectors. The European Alliance for Apprenticeships has made available more than 900,000 opportunities. The renewed Alliance will promote national coalitions, support SMEs and reinforce the involvement of social partners: trade unions and employers' organizations. The goal is to sustain the apprenticeship offers now, as apprentices we train now will be highly skilled workers in a few years' time.
  •  Additional measures to support youth employment include employment and start-up incentives in the short term, and capacity building, young entrepreneur networks and inter-company training centres in the medium term.

More details on each of these measures can be found in the accompanying Q&A.

The Commission urges member states to step up youth employment support by making use of the significant funding available under NextGenerationEU and the future EU budget. For example, the EU can help fund:

  • Start-up grants and loans for young entrepreneurs, mentoring schemes and business incubators.
  • Bonuses for SMEs hiring apprentices.
  • Training sessions to acquire new skills needed on the labour market.
  • Capacity-building of public employment services.
  • Career management training in formal education.
  • Investments in digital learning infrastructure and technology.


During the aftermath of the global 2008 financial crisis, youth unemployment went up from 16.0% in 2008 to a peak of 24.4% in 2013. The figures went down since, with record lows of 14.9%, just before the pandemic hit. Nevertheless, youth unemployment has always remained more than twice as high as general unemployment. The latest figures show that youth unemployment stood at 15.4% across the EU in April 2020. Many fear that a spike is just in front of us.

Significant EU funding is available for Member States to implement reforms spearheaded by the initiatives presented today. The European Social Fund Plus will be a key EU financial resource to support the implementation of the youth employment support measures. As part of the Recovery Plan for Europe, the Recovery and Resilience Facility and REACT-EU will provide additional financial support for youth employment.

More information

Q&A on Youth Employment Support: a bridge to jobs for the next generation

Factsheet on Youth Employment Support

Communication “Youth Employment Support: a bridge to jobs for the next generation”

Commission proposal for a Council Recommendation on a Bridge to Jobs - reinforcing the Youth Guarantee

Commission proposal for a Council Recommendation on Vocational Education and Training

Factsheet on Vocational Education and Training

Follow Valdis Dombrovskis and Nicolas Schmit on Twitter

Subscribe to the European Commission's free e-mail newsletter on employment, social affairs and inclusion

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