The ECo-C and the Freedom of Movement

02.05.2011 08:30

When the new crop of EU member states joined the Union, some of the old states introduced a rule: for up to 7 years after their countries joined the EU, the nationals of these countries would not benefit from all the rules for the free movement of persons; specifically, they would not have the freedoms of EU citizens when it comes to taking up gainful employment.

Although understandable, this policy was not so much based on European values of integration and freedom, but on fear: the fear of the new member states that their qualified citizens would go elsewhere, the fear of some old member states that they would suddenly find themselves flooded with jobseekers, with no time for the job market to absorb them. It was hoped that time would prove the remedy, and that in time, their nationals would find plenty of reasons to move responsibly.

The last of these countries are Germany and Austria, and the 7 years elapse on May 1st, 2011: as of that day, Poles, Czechs, Slovaks, Hungarians and Slovenes will be free to go work in Austria and Austria with no further ado.

For Austria, this is a very emotional moment; many Austrians still feel a kinship with these other nationalities, stemming from the old empire that they all shared up until the death of Franz Joseph in 1918. According to APA reports from an AMS press conference, the country’s employment agency believes that it will soon welcome some 16,500 migrants from Eastern Europe, looking for jobs and internships in all possible sectors. According to the BBC, this may prove very beneficial to the national economy: in the UK, migrants from Eastern Europe have contributed 5 billion GBP to the economy since 2004.

Will there be a rush? Possibly: when a new product or a new possibility is made available to the masses, many are those who set out to seize the opportunity to get it; however, when it comes to migration, the first consideration is jobs and the second is a preexisting support network to help the migrant fit in. Even so, any initial rush usually does abate; some people integrate and find jobs, and some fail to do so.

However, for all of those and for the people who may one day emigrate, the ECo-C is of paramount importance; communication skills are of paramount importance to any migrant, because they define his or her ability to interact with, and be absorbed by, his environment. Furthermore, to the extent where the ECo-C is international and internationally recognised, it is of particular interest to migrants: those who move time and again leave behind a country, or two, or three. They do not wish to leave behind a piece of their abilities or competency. By being valid across the continent, the ECo-C validates their skill, irrespective of where that was acquired.

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