In the EU-25, the free movement of workers across borders will remain restricted. Based in part on research provided by ECAS, EurActiv offers a detailed overview of the different 'transitional arrangements' the Member States will implement up until 2011.

The EU's enlargement is expected to prompt European companies
to look eastward with their new investments and production lines,
while the labour force in the accession countries is expected to
look West for better jobs. Will the EU-15 change the EU-10, or

The EU-15 states have committed themselves to
increasing the rights of access to their respective labour markets
and will refrain from taking away rights which have already been
granted. Under a 'preference rule', EU-10 citizens must be given
priority over people from non-EU countries in case there is a
vacancy in any of the EU-15 job markets.

In the EU-10, labour markets are significantly
cheaper than in the EU-15. After enlargement, many businesses in
the EU-15 are likely to consider relocating all or part of their
operations to the new European countries where generally lower
corporate tax rates come coupled with a relatively more competitive
and entrepreneurial labour market.

Based on historic precedents, it appears
justified to expect that post-enlargement labour movement will be
limited. The EU's previous enlargements also involved low-wage
economies, but the accession of these countries did not result in
mass labour migrations. The entry of Britain, Ireland and Denmark
in 1973 brought in proportionally more people to what was then only
a six-nation bloc (the EEC) and it passed off fairly smoothly.

Meanwhile, UN data indicate that without
immigration, Italy - for one - is set to lose about a third of its
current population by the middle of this century, and Poland - the
largest accession state- is expected to lose 15 per cent of its
citizens. Even with the current level of immigration and the
enlargement by ten new Member States, the EU will have fewer
citizens in 2050 than it does today.

Nutshell scenarios for individuals seeking

  • from EU-15, in EU-15: No change from previous practice. Since
    Cyprus is not affected by the 'transition arrangement', it also can
    be considered part of EU-15.
  • from EU-10, in EU-15: see individual countries under
  • from EU-15, in EU-10: see individual countries under
  • from EU-10, in EU-10: None of the new Member States have
    requested a 'transitional period' in this bracket. However, these
    states each have the ri ght to subsequently invoke

Workers who move to other countries within the EU-25 generally
have the right to:

  • take up a job without a work permit (subject to the
    'transitional arrangements')
  • receive equal treatment in employment matters, social and tax
    advantages as compared to nationals
  • bring along family members, irrespective of their
  • full co-ordination of social security
  • full mutual recognition of professional qualifications