The European Union’s principle of free movement of workers allows nationals of any member state within the European Union to take up employment in another member state, as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
Unfortunately, looking for and taking up employment in another country may prove to be a difficult and daunting task due to different laws and cultures, bureaucratic challenges, language and culture barriers and lack of recognition of education certificates across European countries.
To facilitate the free movement of workers, the EU designed and employed the EURES initiative. This network facilitates the free movement of workers by ensuring that European citizens benefit from equal opportunities within the employment area despite challenges faced when moving to another country for better employment opportunities.
EURES was launched in 1994 and has since developed into a cooperation network formed by public employment services to enhance employment mobility among the EU member states, European Economic Area (‘EEA’) member countries and Switzerland. Through its broad range of services, EURES helps European jobseekers to enhance their working experience and grow from working abroad. It also helps different businesses to benefit from talented people from various European countries.
Overview of EURES
The EURES cooperation network is composed of the European Coordination Office (‘ECO’), the National Coordination Offices (‘NCOs’), various EURES partners and other associated EURES partners. Partners forming part of the network include the Public Employment Services, Private Employment Services, trade unions, employers’ organisations and other relevant stakeholders within the labour market.
EURES is one of the three main axes of the EU Programme for Employment and Social Innovation (‘EaSI’). EaSI is a financing instrument of the European Union which aims to promote sustainable and high quality employment, adequate social protection, suitable working conditions and combats social exclusion and poverty. Amongst its priorities, EaSI aims to support vulnerable groups within our society, particularly young people.
The EURES network targets both job seekers interested in working or studying in another country as well as employers who wish to recruit employees from other European countries. The job mobility network also plays an important role in providing information and facilitating placements for employers and workers in European cross-border regions.
The main objectives of EURES include:
- Informing, guiding and giving advice to job seekers on job opportunities and living conditions within the EU, EEA and Switzerland.
- Assisting employers who wish to recruit workers from other countries.
- Guiding and advising workers and employers in cross-border regions.
To achieve its objectives, EURES provides a range of services to jobseekers and employers. These services include matching job vacancies and CVs on the EURES portal, providing information, guidance and support to workers and employers to eliminate barriers hindering the mobility of workers, providing pre- and post-recruitment assistance and promoting youth opportunities.
The services offered by EURES can be accessed through its vast network of advisers or through the EURES portal. Those individuals wishing to participate or benefit from the services of the EURES network can seek out the help of advisers situated across Europe who are trained to assist jobseekers and employers by providing information, guidance and placement. In addition, interested jobseekers and employers may wish to make use of the EURES portal. The portal offers information on job vacancies in other European countries, information on the labour market trends, living and working conditions in the different countries and regions, and an online database containing jobseekers’ CVs. The EURES portal allows jobseekers to look for different occupations, including permanent and seasonal opportunities, advertised by the European Public Employment Services as well as employers.
The EURES portal is also linked to other web platforms, such as Drop’pin@EURES, which assists individuals seeking traineeships, apprenticeships and internships in other European countries. In a nutshell, the Drop’pin@EURES project, which is led by the European Commission, seeks to boost the employability and skills of young people by offering them various opportunities across Europe and it also provides a common platform where entities can promote their opportunities to youths who wish to enter the labour market. The opportunities provided on the Drop’pin@ EURES platform mainly include apprenticeships and traineeships, training programmes, language courses and e-learning courses, mobility support, coaching and mentoring. These opportunities are offered free of charge to young people interested in joining.
EURES in Cross-Border Regions
The main objective of these cross-border partnerships is to provide cross-border workers with the relevant information and advice on cross-border job mobility and the practicality of working across the border, offer placement opportunities and provide recruitment services both before and after the individual is recruited. However, these partnerships are also involved in monitoring mobility across their respective borders and identify any obstacles which cross-border workers are experiencing. Assessing the situation within the respective border will help the partnership to address those obstacles which hinder an effective movement of workers within the job market.
Within the European Union, more than 1.5 million people live in one EU country and work in another. On a daily basis, cross-border commuters, particularly those that work in other countries, face a number of obstacles which impede their cross-border job mobility experience. Such barriers include different social security systems, taxation laws, national practices and transport.
In an effort to help cross-border workers overcome their daily obstacles, EURES provides financial support to cross-border partnerships through EaSI. The cross-border partnerships are composed of EURES members and partners, who work together to support the mobility of workers and employers. Partners forming such partnerships usually include public employment services, social partners and organisations such as trade unions, business associations, universities and chambers of commerce.
The main cross-border partnerships which receive funding from EaSI, involve 14 countries. The cross-border partnerships which are currently supported by EaSI (2020-2021) are:
- Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands – EURES in den Grenzregionen Belgien, Deutschland, Niederlande
- Spain and Portugal – EURES cross-border Galicia-North Portugal
- Northern Ireland and Ireland – EURES cross-border partnership Ireland – Northern Ireland
- France, Germany and Switzerland – EURES T Oberrhein – Rhin Supérieur
- Belgium and the Netherlands – EURES Scheldemond
- The Czech Republic, Germany and Poland – EURES-TriRegio
- Belgium, France, Germany and Luxembourg – EURES Transfrontalier Grande Région
- Italy and Slovenia – EURADRIA
Your First EURES Job – Targeted Mobility Scheme
Forming part of the EURES axis of EaSI, Your First EURES Job (‘YFEJ’) is a targeted mobility scheme which aims to support and assist young workers within the EU, Iceland or Norway to find a job, traineeship or apprenticeship in another country. The scheme also helps employers in small and medium-sized enterprises (‘SMEs’) to find workers. Youth workers between the age of eighteen (18) and thirty-five (35) and employers are provided with the necessary information, recruitment and matching assistance and pre-and post-placement support.
The YFEJ mobility scheme is implemented by YFEJ employment services which include the public employment services, members of the EURES network, EURES partners and other public or private organisations.
YFEJ targets young people looking for employment, in particular those youths who are unemployed, including long-term unemployed youths. Candidates who wish to apply with the YFEJ scheme can have high or low qualifications when applying and work experience is considered as useful but not essential. Youth candidates applying for the YFEJ scheme may benefit from financial support which can include the cost for language courses, relocation allowance, recognition of qualifications allowance and subsistence allowance for trainees and apprentices. In addition, other support measures offered by the YFEJ scheme includes mentoring support for trainees and apprentices and preparatory training.
With regards to employers, the YFEJ scheme is applicable to all legally established businesses or organisations who have one or more job, traineeship or apprenticeship vacancies. However, in this respect, only SMEs may receive financial support from this scheme. Those employers wishing to participate must offer a work placement with a minimum of three (3) or six (6) month contract duration, full-time or part-time work placement. With regards to trainees or apprentices, these have to provide skill learning and training opportunities to the youth workers and have to be able to issue a certificate or declaration listing the skills and competences acquired by the youth worker at the end of the traineeship or apprenticeship.
Through the services provided, the YFEJ scheme aims to foster the exercise of freedom of movement of workers, the engagement of young unemployed people in work, traineeship or apprenticeship, and test new measures which help to improve integration of youth workers.
EURES and Job Mobility
The EU’s fundamental freedom of free movement of persons provides that every citizen of the European Union has the right to live and work in any other member state without being discriminated against on the grounds of nationality. The free movement of workers is also applicable to member states of the EEA and Switzerland.
The European Union promotes the principle of free movement of workers as it is believed that mobility contributes to a greater economic and social progress as well as a higher level of employment. Mobility of workers enables the European economy, employment and labour force to adapt to changing circumstances and foster cooperation and integration within the European Union. In addition, mobility allows individuals to make new contacts, explore new cultures, change the environment, learn new languages, work or study alongside people from different backgrounds and exchanging ideas and experiences.
As a measure to develop employability, EURES was developed by the EU particularly to spread information about job opportunities abroad or other transnational mobility schemes. EURES provides valuable information and tools aimed to give help and support to individuals who are considering moving to another country or recruiting job seekers from another country. This EU initiative not only helps by listing job opportunities on its portal, but provides other valuable information related to the living and working conditions within each country. Such information includes details on accommodation, education institutions, taxes, cost of living, health, social legislation, comparability of qualifications and other elements. This information undoubtedly assists individuals in making a well-informed decision about mobility.
As mentioned above, the creation of EURES has helped to remove barriers to employment and ensure a level playing field for all European citizens who wish to work abroad and for European employers who wish to employ job seekers from other European countries.
Statistical Information relating to EURES
According to the EURES website, until 8th November 2020, 647,602 CVs have been uploaded on the job mobility portal and a total of 16,768 workplaces have been listed. Furthermore, as visible in the graph, the monthly average visitors to EURES website amounts to 567,308 (amount calculated over 2017 and 2018 data as shown below). However, the number of visitors increased in 2018 by 25% when compared to 2017.
It is also interesting to note the number of jobseekers per country. Currently, as reported by the European Commission on 8th November 2020, the highest number of jobseekers registered on the EURES website emanate from France. The below table provides more information: