EU’s freedom of movement beneficial to economies, study finds

EU citizens go to other EU countries mainly for job opportunities and are on average younger and more likely to be working, a new, independent study has found.

EU YouthThe study, carried out by Ernst and Young on behalf of the European Commission, examined six European cities, which were chosen for the multinational makeup of their populations: Barcelona, Lille, Dublin, Hamburg, Prague and Turin. The number of mobile EU citizens in the selected cities varied from two per cent to nine per cent.

The research found that for all six cities the inflow of younger, working age EU citizens has had a positive economic impact. For example in Turin, a local evaluation shows that tax revenues from foreigners on the whole brought a net benefit of 1.5 billion euros to national public finances.

The study also revealed that newcomers have helped fill gaps in local labour markets, contributed to growth in new sectors and helped balance out ageing populations.

“Free movement is a benefit for Europe, its citizens and its economies,” said Viviane Reding, the EU’s Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, at a mayors’ conference on free movement held yesterday. “There can indeed be challenges in some cities which need to be addressed. It would, however, be the wrong response to question the right to free movement. I believe we need to work together – at European, national and local level – to turn challenges into opportunities. These examples from the cities of Barcelona, Dublin, Hamburg, Lille, Prague and Turin show that it can be done.”

Reding continued: “You can count on the Commission to continue assisting Member States in confronting any challenges linked to free movement. Today’s meeting with mayors will help local authorities from around Europe draw on the best examples of successful policies of integrating EU citizens into cities, to everyone’s benefit. I look forward to seeing such good practices being rolled out Europe-wide.”