Personal Immigration

Report published on benefits of foreign workers

A recent report published by the European Commission makes interesting reading as it looks into the reasons why EU citizens move from one member state to another and the benefits this mobility can bring.

The report was based on a study of six European cities: Barcelona, Dublin, Hamburg, Lille, Prague and Turin, which were chosen on the basis of the multinational composition of their population.

In general terms the study 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 to national public finances.

The main findings of the study are:

  • EU citizens move mainly because of job opportunities and are, on average, younger and more economically active than the local population in the cities examined
  • The inflow of younger, working age EU citizens in the selected cities is helping to address the demographic challenges of an ageing population and a shrinking labour force;
  • They are also helping to fill gaps in the labour market, either taking up mainly low-skilled jobs (Turin and Hamburg), contributing to growth of new sectors (such as ICT in Dublin), or helping create new business ventures (as in Turin and Hamburg).

The study also outlines the following challenges:

  • Mobile citizens are more likely to be overqualified than nationals (taking up jobs below their qualification) which could imply a wasting of skills, mitigating the potential benefits of intra-EU mobility;
  • Wage differentials emerged in some cases between nationals and mobile EU citizens (who most often earn less), although evidence is quite limited;
  • Mobile citizens do not always benefit from the same opportunities in terms of housing and inclusion of children in schools, although they work and pay taxes.

The success of the integration programmes in place in the six cities is evidenced by the fact that attitudes towards mobility are gradually improving. All the cities examined are promoting an inclusive environment and a welcoming culture, through policies such as accessible information (one-stop shop information services for example); support for language learning; and intercultural dialogue and interaction among citizens.

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