Politics

Resolution by the Luxembourgish Youth Parliament on free movement of EU citizens (and assimilated) in the EU

Note: This is an unofficial English translation of a resolution adopted by the Luxembourgish Youth Parliament at its intermediary plenary session on 8 March 2014. The authentic text in French will be available on the Youth Parliament’s website.

Stressing that the free movement of workers is one of the four fundamental economic freedoms in the single market;

Recalling that the objective of free movement of workers in Europe exists since the foundation of the European Union by the Treaties of Rome in 1957;

Whereas the economic theory of optimal currency areas states that high labor mobility is a factor promoting cohesion and sustainability of a monetary zone such as the euro zone;

Aware of the risk of abuse of the posting of workers by employers wishing to avoid the social norms of the Member States most protective of the rights of workers;

Noting, however, that freedom of movement is a right primarily used by highly skilled workers;

Emphasizing the role of tens of thousands of frontier workers who travel daily in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg to contribute to the country’s economic activity and in particular the vitality of its financial centre;

Aware that the competitiveness of the Luxembourg financial centre requires not only a favourable regulatory and tax environment, but also the ability to recruit the best qualified workers;

Emphasizing the benefits generated by the free movement of persons, in particular a better understanding of the culture of other European nations and higher mutual respect which can lead to the emergence of a sense of common belonging as a basis for a European identity;

Aware of the perception by certain categories of citizens in several countries, that some citizens of another EU state might choose to migrate only to obtain more generous social benefits (practice known as “benefits tourism”);

Observing, however, the results of some studies showing that immigrants nationals of another Member State of the EU contribute more than they cost to the welfare of countries critical of the free movement system, e.g., the United Kingdom;

Whereas, moreover, fears about possible “waves of immigration” and the costs for national social protection systems are propagated mainly by populist discourse intended to divert people’s attention from the real difficulties they face in their daily lives;

Noting that the small size of Luxembourg’s territory can encourage its residents to regularly cross borders;

Recalling the benefits of mobility programmes (particularly Erasmus+, Erasmus’ successor) and of free movement for students, especially in terms of knowledge of foreign languages ​​and cultures and in terms of employability;

The Youth Parliament:

1. Calls for the adoption of measures to facilitate the free movement of workers within the EU, and in particular within the euro area. These measures could include the following proposals:

a. Language training for the unemployed to facilitate their resettlement in another Member State where their skills are needed.

b. The development of the content of the EURES portal along the lines of the recent proposal of the European Commission (more job offers in the database, progress in the automation of matching between job offers and registered CVs, etc.).

c. The establishment of a service to support workers in their relocation process (the competent service would be that in the Member State of destination), so that red tape does not represent a daunting obstacle.

d. Better communication about the opportunities offered by free movement of workers within the EU.

e. The verification that the existing domestic legislations on mutual recognition of diplomas do not contain anymore restrictive measures which are not justified or not proportionate to their objective.

2. Rejects unfounded speech propagating the view that the free movement of workers, including nationals of Romania and Bulgaria, jeopardises the social protection systems of the richest Member States.

3. Recommends fighting against the abuse of posting of workers without, however, restricting the principle of free movement of workers. It is therefore appropriate to examine situations of abuse in individual cases and to clarify the conditions of application of the Posted Workers Directive (96/71/EC) rather than make conditions indiscriminately harder.

4. Appreciates the fact that the funding for mobility in the context of studies and training (Erasmus+) has been increased for the period 2014-2020 compared to the previous period. However, the Youth Parliament wants to be sure that this sum will indeed be used and insists that it shall not be used as “hostage” during budget negotiations like in 2013, when some students risked not receiving their Erasmus financial support.

5. Calls for facilitating the free movement of persons to encourage contacts between citizens of different Member States and thus promote the sense of belonging to the EU and the consciousness of the tangible benefits of European integration in the daily life of European citizens. The Youth Parliament is considering the following measures:

a. Extending the period during which a national of a Member State of the EU can reside on the territory of another Member State without restriction, e.g., 6 months (against 3 months, at present).

b. Granting a right of permanent residence after 3 years (against 5, currently) (Article 9 (1) of the amended law of 29 August 2008) and the elimination of the loss of the right of permanent residence under Article 9(3) of the same law.

6. Admits that there is, in some cases, “benefits tourism” and that this practice should be discouraged. However, abuse is the result of a marginal minority (among all inactive migrants who, themselves, represent only 0.7% to 1% of the population) and shall not give rise to general restrictions. It is therefore necessary to combat abuses individually rather than by measures of general application.

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