|The Courier N° 130 Nov - Dec 1991 - Dossier: Oil - Reports: Kenya - The Comoros (EC Courier, 1991, 96 p.)|
|The European social area|
The Commissions proposals, which are directly linked to the achievement of the internal market, should be divided into three groups.
An important area is the fmal removal of existing barriers to freedom of movement and freedom of establishment. The Commissions position is based on the case-law of the European Court of Justice. All remaining travel and residence restrictions for workers from Member States and their families are to be removed.
Freedom of movement in the public service
Proposals that nationals of other Member States should be allowed to work in publicly owned companies will probably lead to lengthy, tough negotiations in the Council of Ministers. Although this is already practised in part in some Member States, there is still much that remains to be done in many places. Again, the Commission is basing its position on rulings of the European Court of Justice, which has repeatedly interpreted Article 48(4) of the EEC Treaty in a very restrictive fashion. This Article states that the general freedom of movement does not apply to employment in the public service. Strictly speaking, this could be taken to mean that employees in the public service and civil servants should always have the nationality of the country in which they work.
However, the European Court of Justice came to the conclusion that this exception can apply only to employees in the public service and civil servants, whose employment is connected with the exercise of sovereignty. The Commission intends to abolish systematically the current practice of certain Member States, under which only their own citizens are employed. Liberal employment practices are to be applied in public transport services, gas works, power stations, postal and telecommunications services, broadcasting and companies engaged in air, sea or rail transport. The extension of such a liberalisation to public health services, schools and universities, as well as civil public research institutes is also envisaged. Furthermore, the idea of giving access to the teaching profession in another Community country to those Community citizens who have completed teacher training is currently under consideration.
Migrant workers and other cross-border commuters
Workers, unemployed persons or persons receiving an early retirement pension, if they move to another Community country, are often worried because of uncertainty about their legal position. There are serious doubts about the rights to which they are entitled. Current Community law stipulates that unemployed persons must remain in the country of their most recent employment, as State support is not transferable abroad. The Commission considers that this situation must be changed. If an unemployed Community citizen moves to another Member State because he/she hopes to find employment more easily there, that person should retain his/her acquired rights. This should also apply to benefits from early retirement schemes.
Workers who live in one Member State, but are employed a short distance away in a different Community country, can be at a disadvantage when it comes to the taxation of income. In 1979, the Commission presented a proposal to the Council of Ministers, which provided for the taxation of the income of cross-border commuters under the laws of the Member State in which the person concerned is resident.
In this context it should be pointed out that the existing schemes for promoting freedom of movement, such as Erasmus, Comett and Youth for Europe are important instruments of internal market policy. In addition, the Commission plans a programme of action for promoting and improving the teaching of foreign languages in the Community. In the spring of 1989 the Council adopted the Lingua programme, which will help to increase the knowledge of foreign languages on the part of workers those on vocational training courses.
Effects on employment
The effects of internal market policy on employment are under constant consideration. Enquiries will concentrate on the sectoral level, and close attention will have to be paid to branches of industry which are already experiencing more or less serious difficulties.