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Freedom of movement for workers in the European Union

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Title: Freedom of movement for workers in the European Union  
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Subject: Reference desk/Archives/Humanities/2015 September 4
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Freedom of movement for workers in the European Union

The freedom of movement for workers is a policy chapter of the acquis communautaire of the European Union. It is part of the free movement of persons and one of the four economic freedoms: free movement of goods, services, labour and capital. Article 45 TFEU (ex 39 and 48) states that:

The right to free movement has both 'horizontal' and 'vertical' direct effect,[2][3] such that a private citizen can invoke the right, without more, in an ordinary court, against other persons, both governmental and non-governmental.


  • History 1
  • Definition of "worker" 2
  • Extent of the right 3
  • Discrimination and market access 4
  • Public service exception 5
  • Directives and regulations 6
  • Social rights 7
  • Transitional provisions in new member states 8
  • See also 9
  • References 10
  • Bibliography 11
  • External links 12


The Treaty of Paris (1951)[4] establishing the European Coal and Steel Community established a right to free movement for workers in these industries and the Treaty of Rome (1957)[5] provided a right for the free movement of workers within the European Economic Community. The Directive 2004/38/EC on the right to move and reside freely assembles the different aspects of the right of movement in one document, replacing inter alia the directive 1968/360/EEC. It also clarifies procedural issues, and it strengthens the rights of family members of European citizens using the freedom of movement.

Definition of "worker"

The meaning of 'worker' is a matter of European Union law.[6] "The essential feature of an employment relationship, however, is that for a certain period of time a person performs services for and under the direction of another person in return for which he receives remuneration."[7]

  • Purpose: under the ECJ caselaw, the rights of free movement of workers applies regardless of the worker's purpose in taking up employment abroad,[8] so long as the work is not solely provided as a means of rehabilitation or reintegration of the workers concerned into society.[9]
  • Time commitment: the right of free movement applies to both part-time and full-time work, so long as the work is effective and genuine[8] and not of such small scale, irregular nature or limited duration to be purely marginal and ancillary.[8][10]...
  • Remuneration: a wage is a necessary precondition for activity to constitute work, but the amount is not important. The right to free movement applies whether or not the worker required additional financial assistance from the Member State into which he moves.[11] Remuneration may be indirect quid pro quo (e.g. board and lodging) rather than strict consideration for work.[12]

Extent of the right

The right to free movement applies where the legal relationship of employment is entered into in or shall take effect within the territory of the European Community.[13][14] The precise legal scope of the right to free movement for workers has been shaped by the European Court of Justice and by directives and regulations. Underlying these developments is a tension "between the image of the Community worker as a mobile unit of production, contributing to the creation of a single market and to the economic prosperity of Europe" and the "image of the worker as a human being, exercising a personal right to live in another state and to take up employment there without discrimination, to improve the standard of living of his or her family".[15]

Discrimination and market access

Public service exception

Directives and regulations

Social rights

Transitional provisions in new member states

In both the Treaty of Accession 2003 and the Treaty of Accession 2005, there is a clause about a transition period before workers from the new member states can be employed on an equal, non-discriminatory terms in the old member states. The old member states have the right to impose such transitional period for 2 years, then to decide if to extend it for additional 3 years, and then, if there is serious proof that labour from new member states would be disruptive to the market in the old member states then the period can be extended for the last time for 2 more years.[21]

Further the citizens of the member states of the European Economic Area have the same right of freedom of movement inside the EEA. Also, the European Union and Switzerland have concluded a bilateral agreement with the same meaning. Both EEA member states and Switzerland are treated as "old member states" in regard to the Treaty of Accession of the new EU members, so they can impose such 2+3+2 transitional periods.
  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Initially, restrictions on freedom of labour were lifted in the year mentioned first, but Switzerland decided on a later date to reimpose restrictions until 31 May 2014 under a safeguard clause.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Initially, restrictions on freedom of labour were lifted in the year mentioned first, but Switzerland decided on a later date to reimpose restrictions until 30 April 2014 under a safeguard clause.
  3. ^ a b c According to the Protocol to the Agreement between the European Community and Switzerland regarding the participation of Bulgaria and Romania, Switzerland applies the 2+3+2 transitional period formula starting from 1 June 2009, and may enforce some exclusions for an additional 3 years.

See also


  1. ^ Treaty of Rome (consolidated version). EUR-Lex
  2. ^ Union royale belge des sociétés de football association ASBL v Jean-Marc Bosman, Case C-415/93. EUR-Lex
  3. ^ Roman Angonese v Cassa di Risparmio di Bolzano SpA, Case C-281/98 (2000). EUR-Lex
  4. ^ Article 69 part of Treaty establishing the European Economic Community (Rome, 25 March 1957) on CVCE website.
  5. ^ Title 3 part of Treaty establishing the European Economic Community (Rome, 25 March 1957) on CVCE website.
  6. ^ Hoekstra (née Unger) v Bestuur der Bedrijfsvereniging voor Detailhandel en Ambachten, Case 75-63 (1964). EUR-Lex
  7. ^ Deborah Lawrie-Blum v Land Baden-Württemberg, Case 66/85 (1986). EUR-Lex
  8. ^ a b c Levin v Staatssecretaris van Justitie, Case 53/81 (1982). EUR-Lex
  9. ^ Bettray v Staatssecretaris van Justitie, Case 344/87 (1989). EUR-Lex
  10. ^ Raulin v Minister van Onderwijs en Wetenschappen, Case C-357/89 (1992). EUR-Lex
  11. ^ Kempf v Staatssecretaris van Justitie, Case 139/85 (1986). EUR-Lex
  12. ^ Udo Steymann v Staatssecretaris van Justitie, Case 196/87 (1988). EUR-Lex
  13. ^ Walrave and Koch v Association Union cycliste internationale, Koninklijke Nederlandsche Wielren Unie et Federación Española Ciclismo, Case 36-74 (1974). EUR-Lex
  14. ^ See alsoIngrid Boukhalfa v Bundesrepublik Deutschland, C-214/94 (1996). EUR-Lex
  15. ^ Craig & de Búrca 2003, p. 701
  16. ^!celexplus!prod!CELEXnumdoc&numdoc=61987J0379&lg=en Anita Groener v Minister for Education and the City of Dublin Vocational Educational Committee. Judgment of the Court of 28 November 1989.
  17. ^ Judgment of the Court of 24 November 1993. - Criminal proceedings against Bernard Keck and Daniel Mithouard. - References for a preliminary ruling: Tribunal de grande instance de Strasbourg - France. - Free movement of goods - Prohibition of resale at a loss. - Joined cases C-267/91 and C-268/91.
  18. ^!celexplus!prod!CELEXnumdoc&lg=en&numdoc=61995J0018 F.C. Terhoeve v Inspecteur van de Belastingdienst Particulieren/Ondernemingen buitenland. Judgment of the Court of 26 January 1999.
  19. ^ Council Directive 68/360/EEC of 15 October 1968 on the abolition of restrictions on movement and residence within the Community for workers of Member States and their families
  20. ^ Regulation (EEC) No 1612/68 of the Council of 15 October 1968 on freedom of movement for workers within the Community
  21. ^ European Commission. "FAQ on the Commission's free movement of workers report". Retrieved 2010-07-28. 
  22. ^ a b c d
  23. ^ a b
  24. ^ "Croazia in Europa, ecco le prime limitazioni adottate dall’Italia". Retrieved 3 July 2013. 
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^ a b
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^ a b c
  32. ^ a b Date of applicability as member states of the EEC. A similar right previously existed on a bilateral basis.
  33. ^
  34. ^
  35. ^
  36. ^
  37. ^ a b "Eleven EU nations to restrict access for Croatian workers". ANSA. Retrieved 3 July 2013. 
  38. ^ a b
  39. ^
  40. ^
  41. ^
  42. ^
  43. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ""UREDBU: O PRIVREMENOJ PRIMJENI PRAVILA O RADU DRŽAVLJANA DRŽAVA ČLANICA EUROPSKE UNIJE I ČLANOVA NJIHOVIH OBITELJI"". Narodne Novine. Retrieved 1 July 2013. 
  44. ^ a b c
  45. ^ "Croatia to become part of the EEA". Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 2014. Retrieved 7 November 2014. 
  46. ^ a b c "Work permits and labour market restrictions in some EU countries".  
  47. ^ a b "Free movement of persons". Directorate for European Affairs.  
  48. ^ a b "Free Movement of Persons Switzerland – EU/EFTA". Federal Office for Migration.  


  • P. Craig and G. de Búrca, EU Law: Text, Cases and Materials, 3rd edition, OUP, 2003.

External links

  • European Commission: EU citizenship and free movement
  • Your Europe: Work Permits
  • EURES - The European Job Mobility Portal
  • The Free Movement of Persons in the European Union: A Legal-historical Overview

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