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Migration and mobility

The internal free movement of labour is a cornerstone of the EU policy agenda for some years, with the underlying objectives of encouraging cross-country exchanges and balancing differences related to specific national systems. Both migration and mobility are necessary for addressing skills imbalances and responding to labour market demands. Mobility provides opportunities for EU citizens.

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Som en reaktion på Rysslands krig mot Ukraina aktiverade EU sitt direktiv om tillfälligt skydd för personer som flydde från landet, vilket gjorde det möjligt för dem att bosätta sig...

14 juni 2023
Publication
Other

Eurofound research

Given the complexities around migration and mobility, socioeconomic research is key in order to inform policy responses. Eurofound’s extensive research on different aspects of migrants and mobile workers primarily focuses on geographical mobility. It mainly considers the labour market situation of EU citizens in terms of intra-EU mobility or internal migration, on the one hand, and migration of third-country nationals to the EU, on the other.

Receiving and integrating migrants

Analysis in 2023 focuses on the social impact of migration, looking at the challenges associated with the influx of over five million displaced people as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine since February 2022. 

Other research will commence on labour shortages and underutilised potential of workers, examining policy interventions and company practices. This will have a specific focus on sectors in which labour shortages were aggravated by the COVID-19 crisis. Case studies will also be integrated on corporate initiatives to integrate migrants from Ukraine. 

Labour mobility and integration policies

Eurofound has looked at trends and policies in relation to labour mobility in the EU, as well as the situation of posted workers in the Member States.

Following the massive influx of asylum seekers into the EU during the period 2015–2017, Eurofound research has explored the role of public services in the social and economic integration of refugees and asylum seekers, focusing specifically on labour market integration, housing, social services, health and education services. 

This followed on from research on approaches to the labour market integration of refugees and asylum seekers carried out as an immediate response to the 2015 refugee crisis, updating information on legislation, examining labour market integration and exploring the role of the social partners.

Research on migration, labour market policies and effective integration of third-country nationals has explored policy coordination between Member States and also the important role of the social partners in relation to third-country migration.

Eurofound has also carried out a study on the regulation of labour market intermediaries and the role of the social partners in preventing trafficking of labour. Other research has focused on the impact of mobility and migration of healthcare workers in central and eastern European countries.

Local integration policies for migrants

Eurofound conducted an earlier study from 2006 to 2010 with a network of over 30 European cities working together to support the social and economic integration of third-country migrants. The European network of cities for local integration policies for migrants (CLIP) encouraged the structured sharing of experiences through the medium of separate city reports and workshops that covered four research modules on housing, diversity, intercultural policies and ethnic entrepreneurship. The lessons learnt and the conclusions drawn from the results of each research module have also contributed to the national and the European debate on integration

EU context

The EU, governments and the social partners face many challenges associated with internal mobility in practice. The European Parliament resolution of 20 May 2021 focuses on the impacts of EU rules on the free movements of workers and services, promoting intra-EU mobility as a tool to match labour supply with demand, as well as matching labour market needs and migrants’ skills. This has been compounded by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 and yet another refugee crisis on a scale not seen since World War II.  

At the same time, the high inflow of refugees in 2015 (often called ‘the Syrian refugee crisis’) has had a profound impact across the EU and beyond. Migration is one of the European Commission’s top policy priorities. Adopted on 23 September 2020, the Commission’s New Pact on Migration and Asylum sets out a fairer and more integrated approach to managing migration and asylum. It aims to reduce incentives for irregular migration, develop legal migration pathways and rebuild trust between Member States in managing migration. Among the initiatives included in the package are an action plan on integration and inclusion for 2021–2027, a skills and talent package to attract skilled talent in different labour markets, as well as a legal migration policy. In June 2022, the EU Member States reached agreement on several reform aspects relating to the screening and registration of migrants arriving at the EU's external borders. 

In response to war in Ukraine and the influx of refugees to the EU, the European Council invoked the Temporary Protection Directive for the first time in its history, extending it until 4 March 2024. It offers temporary protection for displaced persons and includes special protection for children, access to education and healthcare, as well as access to jobs, accommodation and housing. 

In April 2022, the Commission put forward an ambitious and sustainable legal migration policy, which includes specific actions to support the integration of those fleeing the war in Ukraine into the EU's labour market. Subsequently, in June 2022, the Commission published results of a special Eurobarometer carried out in 2021 around public opinion on the integration of immigrants in the EU. 

Eurofound’s work on migration and mobility links in with the Commission’s 2019–2024 priority on promoting our European way of life. 

 

Key outputs

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Employment statistics consistently show that having a foreign background has an influence on people’s employment prospects. Less is known about the types of jobs workers with foreign backgrounds hold and...

27 november 2019
Publication
Policy brief

Definitions

  • Intra-EU mobility: The movement of EU nationals within the EU, whether within a Member State or between Member States, as mobile workers. In cases where this move is between Member States and at least semi-permanent, this constitutes internal migration. Shorter-term movement includes the phenomena of posted workers and cross-border commuters.
  • Migration: The movement of workers between states on a permanent or semi-permanent basis. This migration may be internal migration between Member States or third-country migration of workers from outside the EU.
  • European Industrial Relations DictionaryFree movement of citizens, Free movement of workers, Immigration, Migration, Mobility of workers, Posted workersThird-country nationals
Publications results (101)

Som en reaktion på Rysslands krig mot Ukraina aktiverade EU sitt direktiv om tillfälligt skydd för personer som flydde från landet, vilket gjorde det möjligt för dem att bosätta sig i EU och få tillgång till grundläggande offentliga tjänster och arbetsmarknaden. Våren 2023 hade över 4,5 miljoner

14 June 2023

Employment statistics consistently show that having a foreign background has an influence on people’s employment prospects. Less is known about the types of jobs workers with foreign backgrounds hold and their working conditions. This policy brief contributes to filling this gap.

27 November 2019

Following the influx of over three million asylum seekers into the European Union in the three-year period 2015–2017, Member States faced a number of challenges related to integrating the newly arrived into their country. This report explores the role of public services – specifically housing

19 June 2019

Low-wage jobs have been a focus of debate in six countries across Europe during 2016. However, the issues discussed have reflected differing national concerns. For some countries, the key issue is the integration of migrants into the labour market; for others, how to stimulate job creation and

23 December 2016

This report expands on existing research on the labour market integration of refugees and asylum seekers as a response to the refugee crisis. It updates information on legislation and practical arrangements in the first half of 2016, examines labour market integration in the broader context of

14 December 2016

The sixth European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS) builds on the lessons learned from the previous five surveys to paint a wide-ranging picture of Europe at work across countries, occupations, sectors and age groups. EU employment policy priorities aim to boost employment levels, prolong working

17 November 2016

This EurWORK topical update considers how EU Member States have dealt with transposing Directive 2014/67/EU to improve enforcement of European regulations as regards the posting of workers. The situation at mid-2016 is analysed, based on contributions and updates from Eurofound’s network of European

18 October 2016

Following the British referendum on 23 June, in which 51.9% of people voted to leave the European Union, social partners across most European countries have commented on the impact that the British exit will have on their countries or members. This topical update summarises their first reactions, in

27 July 2016

This article provides an overview of surveys on the working life experiences of LGBT people in the EU and initiatives that aim to tackle this issue. The information is based on contributions from Eurofound’s network of European correspondents.

13 May 2016

The right to free movement for workers within the European Union was enshrined in Article 48 of the EEC Treaty in 1957. Nowadays, private labour market intermediaries – such as temporary work agencies and employment placement agencies – contribute to facilitating this labour mobility in their role

27 April 2016

Online resources results (136)

Patterns and trends in social partner involvement in times of crises. 20-21 March 2023, EMCO meeting hosted by the Swedish Presidency, Stockholm. Presentation by Ricardo Rodriguez Contreras, Research Manager, Eurofound.

23 mars 2023

Malta: latest working life developments Q2 2018

Concern about the rise in the number of foreign workers and a widening gender pay gap are the main topics of interest in this article. This country update reports on the latest developments in working life in Malta in the second quarter of 2018.

Slovakia: latest working life developments Q2 2018

An increase in wage supplements, easier access for people from countries outside the EU to join the Slovak labour market and new legislation for social enterprises are the main topics of interest in this article. This country update reports on the latest developments in working life in Slovakia in

Estonia: Latest working life developments – Q4 2017

An increase in the national minimum wage, changes to tax and benefit systems for 2018, a new scheme for fathers’ leave, and talks on the immigration quota are the main topics of interest in this article. This country update reports on the latest developments in working life in Estonia in the fourth

Sweden: Labour market effects of temporary residence permits

Asylum seekers have been eligible only for temporary residence permits in Sweden since Parliament voted in June 2016 for a three-year freeze on their right to immediate permanent residency on arrival. During widespread public debate about the decision, unions have expressed fears that this is

Croatia: Latest working life developments – Q2 2017

Emergency legislation to prevent the collapse of large companies, help for posted workers, Croatia’s slow post-transition economic progress and the retention of young and skilled labour are the main topics of interest in this article. This country update reports on the latest developments in working

Norway: Latest working life developments – Q2 2017

Amendments to the Working Environment Act on working time and whistle-blowing; the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO) congress; and the start of parliamentary election campaigning are the main topics of interest in this article. This country update reports on the latest developments in

Croatia: Increased need for foreign workers debated

Despite Croatia's high unemployment rate, companies are finding it difficult to fill vacancies, particular in the construction, shipbuilding and tourism sectors. The Croatian Employers’ Association has urged the government to increase quotas for foreign workers, while trade unions are calling for an

Greece: Latest working life developments – Q1 2017

Continuing negotiations with the Troika on the Greek labour market and pensions system, the conclusion of a national collective employment agreement and a judgment on human trafficking are the main topics of interest in this article. This country update reports on the latest developments in working

Denmark: Tripartite negotiations – staged approach seems to be working

When tripartite negotiations broke down almost as soon as they started in 2012, many labour market researchers and social partner representatives predicted the government would no longer invite the social partners to such negotiations. However, they have started again but only after the involved


Blogs results (9)
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The European Pillar of Social Rights states that ‘everyone has the right to affordable long-term care services of good quality, in particular home-care and community-based services’. Taking a step to make this principle a reality, the European Commission is currently preparing a European Care

5 maj 2022
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Unemployment in the EU is continuing to fall, with the rate approaching its 2008 low point. This is good news: the Europe 2020 target of 75% employment in the working age population is now in sight for many Member States. However, as unemployment reaches new lows, the opposite problem is emerging –

19 november 2018
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The integration of migrants from outside the EU into society is one of the key challenges that the Union must address to maintain social cohesion and equality. This blog piece looks at how well migrants and their descendants have integrated into the labour markets of EU Member States.

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Monday 18 December is International Migrants Day. In the following blog piece Eurofound Director Juan Menéndez-Valdés and Research Manager Klára Fóti look at new developments in migration policy and practice in the EU, and the need to build clear paths to the labour market for Europe’s new migrants.

18 december 2017
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The Great Recession had lasting effects on European labour markets, both in terms of employment levels and structure. Not only did employment rates drop significantly – taking years to return to pre-crisis levels, with some countries not fully recovered yet – but the crisis also accelerated

3 augusti 2017
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The refugee crisis has posed significant challenges for Europe – we have not seen such a large-scale migration of people since the Second World War. The exodus from war-torn regions initially posed a humanitarian challenge for frontline countries such as Greece and Italy. However, the longer term

20 juni 2017
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The European Union (EU) has strong legislation in place that protects workers from being exploited and also enables businesses to engage in fair competition. Workers are mobile and can move freely within the EU single market across borders – without being dependent upon traffickers. Yet, the latest

3 maj 2016
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Eurofound has been doing extensive work on the issues of mobility and migration. This blog gives a brief overview of the different aspects of EU mobile workers, posted workers and third-country migration, as well as a preview of our upcoming research.

11 december 2015
Upcoming publications results (2)

The focus of this report is on the role that human capital plays in determining inequalities across the EU, as well as within Member States. Using Cedefop’s work in this area, the report provides a comparative analysis of national trends in education and lifelong learning, including differences betw

August 2024

As part of its response to Russia’s war on Ukraine, the EU swiftly activated its Temporary Protection Directive for those fleeing the conflict in Ukraine, enabling displaced persons to settle in the EU and have access to the labour market and basic public services. There are many specific challenges

March 2024
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