Is new EU legislation on the rights of EU migrant workers necessary?

11 July 2013

The House of Lords EU Sub-Committee on the Internal Market, Infrastructure and Employment is to scrutinise a new European Union proposal to improve the application of EU workers’ rights to free movement.

In April of this year, the Commission outlined a draft directive reaffirming the rights of EU migrant workers to live and work freely in the EU and for barriers to their free movement to be removed*.

On Monday 15 July the committee will question four different witnesses on the proposal.

Those giving evidence are:

  • Don Flynn, Director, Migrants Rights Network;
  • Jonathan Portes, Director, National Institute of Economic and Social Research;
  • Professor Jo Shaw Salvesen Chair of European Institutions, Dean of Research and Deputy Head of the College of Humanities and Social Science, University of Edinburgh; and
  • John Springford Fellow, Centre for European Reform.

The committee is likely to question witnesses on the possible effect of strengthened rights for EU migrant workers on social welfare systems, and whether the draft directive would broaden the opportunities for UK nationals to live and work in other Member States.

Other questions the witnesses are likely to face include:

  • Is there a risk of creating a "brain drain" in certain countries through promoting free movement of workers?
  • Is free movement of workers sustainable in the context of the economic crisis, in particular in those Member States with high rates of unemployment?
  • Is there sufficient information available about the number of EU nationals working in the UK, and the burdens and benefits they bring to the country?

The evidence session will take place at 4.30pm on Monday 15 July in Committee Room 4A of the House of Lords.

Background Information

* While EU rules on free movement of workers are long-established, the European Commission argues that the way in which they are applied in practice can give rise to barriers and discriminatory practices (perceived or real) for EU migrant workers when working or looking for work in another Member State.

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