EU Seeks to Improve Labor Mobility Amid Record Unemployment

The European Union proposed measures to improve the free movement of workers in the 27-nation bloc as policy makers search for ways to boost economic growth and fight record unemployment.

The proposal comes a day after Spain said that nation’s jobless rate topped 27 percent in the first quarter, reaching the highest in more than three decades. Unemployment in the 17-nation euro area stood at a record 12 percent in February and is forecast to rise further, according to a Bloomberg News survey of economists.

“With much higher levels of unemployment in some member states than others at the moment, it is all the more important to make it easier for those that want to work in another EU country to be able to do so,” EU Employment Commissioner Laszlo Andor said in a statement.

The number of jobless in Spain increased to more than 6 million for the first time in the first quarter, the National Statistics Institute in Madrid said yesterday. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is set today to unveil measures aimed at halting a six-year economic slump in the country, which has more than one-fifth of all unemployed people in the EU.

Jobless rates are “unbearably high” in some European nations, EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn said yesterday in Brussels. Spain’s “very high unemployment and excessively tight financing conditions have exposed the vulnerabilities represented by” the country’s macroeconomic imbalances, he said.

Labor Mobility

About 9.5 million Europeans, or 3 percent of the EU labor force, live and work in another EU nation, according to EU data. An additional 1.2 million people reside in one EU country but work in another. The planned measures announced today aim “to enhance labor mobility in the EU by preventing discrimination and reducing the incidence of unfair practices migrant workers face in Europe,” the EU said.

Under the proposal, EU governments would be required to establish “national contact points” for migrant workers and to provide redress mechanisms at national level. The proposal needs approval by EU governments and the European Parliament.