Recruiting Immigrant Workers: Europe 2016

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The OECD series Recruiting Immigrant Workers comprises country studies of labour migration policies. Each volume analyses whether migration policy is being used effectively and efficiently to help meet labour needs, without adverse effects on labour markets. It focuses mainly on regulated labour migration movements over which policy has immediate and direct oversight. This particular volume looks at the efficiency of European Union instruments for managing labour migration.



The context for labour migration in Europe

The context underlying labour migration in the European Union is economic, demographic and political in nature. Regarding the first point, there are wide variations among Member States in growth and in the current employment situation. Overall the working-age population is peaking or starting to decline, although this effect also varies. Despite these differences, there are some common challenges and common principles. The political competence at the EU level is to achieve added value in areas of shared interest. EU labour migration policy is not the sum of the individual Member States’ decisions but a legislative framework to achieve common goals through concerted measures. It is rooted in a long-standing commitment to favouring mobility of workers and to ensuring their rights. Broad agreement EU-wide on basic rights and principles of equal treatment have allowed progress in this area. Regarding labour migration admission conditions and criteria, there have been specific measures leading to a fragmented rather than a broad labour migration framework. National systems evolved through very different processes and priorities, not all of which have converged.


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