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 work
- 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 Positions.
- from EU-15, in EU-10: see individual countries under Positions.
- 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 'safeguards'.
- 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 nationality
- full co-ordination of social security
- full mutual recognition of professional qualifications