In times of crisis, we must safeguard free movement

Sir, Free movement of persons is the essence of European citizenship. All EU and European Economic Area citizens have and must have the right to move freely across the EU and EEA countries as tourists, for business, to study – or to seek work.

In times of economic crisis, we must safeguard free movement. The European Council has repeatedly pointed to the importance of labour mobility for boosting growth in Europe. We need to make sure that we use the full potential of a continent of half a billion people.

For almost 60 years, citizens of the Nordic countries have enjoyed the benefits of free movement and an open labour market. Many people find work in another Nordic country every year. Today we continue working to promote more mobility.

In times of increased global competition, access to the entire EU and EEA population is an asset for European companies. Employees and their families must therefore be able to move to other countries. Some countries are screaming for more labour as their exports are at an all-time high. Others face high youth unemployment. Many young people could seek work abroad and eventually return with new skills. When competitiveness is uneven, we need to facilitate mobility – not constrain it. EU legislation is in place ensuring that the free movement principle works in practice and that workers are properly covered by benefit and insurance schemes.

We are concerned about claims that people move across Europe for “welfare tourism”, merely to exploit other countries’ benefits systems, despite a European Commission report showing that EU migrants are not a burden for their host countries. In fact, mobile EU citizens in most states are net contributors to the welfare system. The report underlines that for the EU15 countries, gross domestic product is estimated to have increased by almost 1 per cent in the long term as a result of post-enlargement mobility (2004-09). Furthermore, mobile EU citizens help the host country’s economy to function better by alleviating skills shortages and labour market bottlenecks.

As the report suggests, it seems that the only actual problem is the “widespread belief that EU migrants are a burden”.

Prejudiced arguments have no place in political debate. EU migrants who work and contribute financially to building our societies should not be made scapegoats for loopholes in national benefit schemes. We consider the free movement principle to be fundamental for European integration and a part of the solution to the economic crisis.

Birgitta Ohlsson, Minister for EU Affairs, Sweden
Alexander Stubb, Minister for European Affairs and Foreign Trade, Finland
Vidar Helgesen, Minister for EEA and EU Affairs, Norway

 

Related news

Latest news

UiB and CMR in high-tech collaboration

Students from UiB last month joined an experiment with an ultra-high-speed camera. This was a part of the troubleshooting of the Field Kelvin Probe currently under development.

Hatteland Display at International Workboat Show 2016

Hatteland Display are highlighting its diverse portfolio of maritime displays and panel computers on its booth (#1658) at the International Workboat Show 2016 (IWBS 2016) this week.

Servogear Announces Upcoming Events

Servogear announces a busy end of November, beginning of December. They will be participating at important international exhibitions.

Teamtec and ANDRITZ Cooperation

ANDRITZ and TeamTec have signed a cooperation agreement for worldwide marketing of the SeaSOx exhaust gas cleaning system for the maritime industry. 

Export Credit Norway looking for Norway's Best Exporter

Export Credit Norway  has now opened the nomination process for the 2017 Export Award, searching the Norwegian exporter of the year. 

Global Economic Outlook

7 December, Oslo Chamber of Commerce invites to a session with insightful updates on the Norwegian and international economy.

Rebuilding for Hydrogen

M/Y “Che Guevara”, previously owned by Gaddafi, will be converted to run on hydrogen. Greenstat will lead the project and are seeking partners.

Scana training at Servogear

In week 43-45 Servogear  had the pleasure of having Mr. Sun Xiaojia and Mr. Tzuu Kin Tan from Scana staying in the Servogear hometown of Rubbestadneset.

Quality and Customer Satisfaction

Cost efficiency is important. But we can’t rely on cost-cutting alone. At Beerenberg we have asked ourselves the following question: What does it take for the market to continue to choose providers such as Beerenberg in th...