European Workers' Mobility questionnaire and hotline from ECAS

Martin Belam  by Martin Belam, 20 September 2006

With my work over the next few weeks taking me to Scotland, Austria and Hungary, I'm naturally very interested about the free movement of workers within the EU. In fact, 2006 is European Year of Workers' Mobility.

The European Citizen Action Service has been running a hotline to help people find out more information about moving for work within EU states, and also has a survey consulting organisations and citizens about how they have found the practicalities of free movement within the union.

ECAS logo  ECAS hotline logo

This response mentioned in one of their press releases seems typical:

I know I should have registered with the national authorities three months after my arrival here. However, they say they have not received the new Decree telling them how they should operate the new system yet, so a residence permit is still required from me. It is enough that I had to search and submit the proof that this country has done away with the restrictions for workers of the new Member States so that they would stop asking me for a work permit

That lack of joined up thinking was pretty similar to my own experience in Greece, where for example I initially couldn't apply for a telephone line because I didn't have an EU resident's permit - but I couldn't apply for an EU resident's permit as i) everybody knew it was going to be abolished in a couple of months anyway, and ii) the Greek authorities were always unlikely to want to deport nicely spoken economically viable white British people. Unless they were plane-spotting of course.

The hotline will continue until the end of September, and the online questionnaire can be found at http://www.ecas.org/Workers_Mobility/2358/default.aspx?id=715.

On the whole my response reflected the fact that I have found the process mostly painless. Then again, the press in Greece so far haven't started scapegoating migrants for eating the Queen's swans.

If you want a depressing read about that, I suggest Nick Medic's "Making a meal of a myth" article about trying to get a complaint registered with the PPC about The Sun's accusations that asylum seekers were eating swans back in 2003. I note The Sun feel free to re-publish the original article on the web without any link to the eventual disclaimer that they were grudgingly forced to publish some five months later, agreeing that the article was "conjectural".

Whilst you are reading it, you might want to compare The Sun's 2003 follow-up 'Now they're nicking fish' story, claiming asylum seekers were depleting Britain's fishing stocks, with recent stories in the Daily Mail recycling the story with scapegoat-du-jour "the Poles" in the frame this time round - "New laws to stop Poles eating carp stocks" and "Peckish Poles 'pinch Britain's carp'" by Paul Harris.

I'm really glad I'm a legitimate EU migrant to Greece rather than one to the UK.

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