The European Commission has named 2006 the European Year for mobility of workers. The year aims to raise awareness and increase understanding of the benefits of both working abroad and in a new occupation. It is the first European year which combines the issues of mobility and workers.
Working in new countries and/or sectors provides workers with new skills and experience, benefiting both them and their employers. Reskilling is also crucial in a globalised and restructuring economic environment. Yet current figures show that very few Europeans work abroad. The percentage of Europeans residing in an EU country other than their country of origin has consistently remained around 1.5% for the last 30 years. And in 9 EU countries, 40% of workers have remained in the same job for over 10 years.
Of the year's 6million budget, around 4.3 million will be dedicated to mobility awareness raising projects, to be submitted in a September call for proposals. The rest will be spent on major events, such as next June's Vienna Mobility conference or next September's 'Job Fair Europe' which will see job fairs in around 100 European cities. Several studies on the impact of mobility, as well as attempts to improve statistical data on it, are also planned. A European prize will be awarded to the organisation that has contributed the most to worker mobility.
2006 is also when the 12 EU Member States who applied labour mobility transitional arrangements after the latest enlargement will have the first opportunity to review whether to keep them. Repealing or easing these temporary restrictions on worker movements from the new Member States would significantly help labour mobility. The year's official launch will be made in the presence of European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and several of his Commissioners in February 2006.