«A thesis submitted to the Department of Political Science and International Studies of the University of Birmingham for the degree of Doctor of ...»
Since the transmission of this proposal to the European Parliament in December 2002, however, it has not been processed through the decision-making system of the EU.52 This can be read as drawback of this Commission effort to promote its interpretation of what freedom of movement of EU nationals entails. However, the Commission has used other tools at its disposal to that end. In performance of the duties vested in it by the Founding Treaties it has for example undertaken infringement procedures against member states that do not comply with the legal requirements on this issue. In 1988 the Commission launched an action plan aimed at increasing the access to employment in some public sectors, such as teaching and public health care and has undertaken infringement procedures in the ECJ against Luxembourg, Belgium and Greece. 53 The ECJ ruled in favour of the Commission in all these cases. 54 Another way in which the Commission discourse has promoted the decreased salience of internal EU borders from the period prior to the SEA is the constant efforts towards establishing a system in the EU that will facilitate the recognition of professional 49 For more details see European Commission, Free Movement of Workers – Achieving the Full Benefits and Potential, COM (2002) 694 final, 11.12. 2002, pp. 17-24 50 Ibid., p. 18 51 Ibid., p.
142 as knowledge of other EU member states‟ societies) by supporting student exchanges between Universities in the EU. The most prominent illustration of these efforts are the ERASMUS, LINGUA and SOCRATES programs, the latter two of which have as one of their activities language teaching. 63 Furthermore, the Commission has sought to promote language learning through putting a target of citizens in the EU learning at least two EU languages in order to be able to benefit from the occupational and personal opportunities offered by the single market.64 As far as the lack of information is concerned, one of the most important undertakings of the Commission has been the establishment of European Employment Services (EURES). The Commission launched it in September 2003. Its objective is to provide Europe-wide access to available jobs, thus contributing to improving information and transparency of job opportunities throughout the EU. EURES links together Public Employment Services of the member states with partners such as employers and trade unions. It also provides workers and employers with practical information on job mobility.
From 2006 it allowed all EU citizens to have direct access to all job vacancies published by the Employment Services of the member states. According to the Commission EURES has become one of the most visited Commission websites.65 Another development that facilitates free movement of people inside the Union is the adoption of EU-wide cards on several issues, such as the European Health Insurance Card and European level professional cards that allow for the vocational qualifications recognitions. 66 The articulations of Commission officials imply that it supports such measures. For example, on the issue of the European Heath Insurance Card Commissioner Špidla argued that: “The high acceptance of the European Health Insurance Card clearly shows that this EU-project gives added value to its citizens.” 67 Furthermore, he praised the 63 For brief overview of these programmes see European Commission, Education – Training – Research. The Obstacles to Transnational Mobility, COM (96) 462 final, 2.10.1996, p. 34 64 Ibid., p. 29 65 This brief overview of EURES is from European Commission, Final Report on the Implementation of the Commission’s Action Plan for Skills and Mobility COM (2002) 72 final, COM (2007) final, 25.01.2007, p. 8 66 One of the first professional cards introduced is the European Engineer‟s Card. For more information about this see Vladimir Špidla, The European Year of Workers’ Mobility, SPEECH/06/248, 24.04.2006, p. 4 67 Vladimir Špidla cited in European Commission, One Year on: the European Health Insurance Card has Made its Mark across the EU, IP/05/802, 28.06.2005 143 idea of the introduction of a European Engineer‟s Card: “Engineers do not just pave the way for technical progress; they can also be pioneers through good practices for promoting mobility.”68 All these measures clearly indicate the efforts made by the Commission in overcoming a variety of borders still existing for the free movement of EU citizens, and hence, show a trend towards the construction of a common European space. Time-wise the overwhelming majority of measures striving to overcome practical obstacles to mobility have started to emerge in Commission discourse later than the administrative and legal measures. While the former have been present since the first decades of European integration, the latter became much more pronounced during the period under consideration in this study – after the mid-1980. The advancement of measures that aim at overcoming practical obstacles to mobility are evidence for the comprehensive nature of the Commission understanding of the types of factors that hamper free movement of people.
Furthermore, this is an indication of the Commission‟s desire to achieve genuine freedom of movement, not only one contained in the provisions of legal and administrative requirements. Given the diversity of languages, cultures or practices within the Union, elimination of legal and administrative barriers to free movement is a necessary but not sufficient condition. If mobility is to be achieved, practical measures are unavoidably required once the administrative and legal framework has been transformed. Thus, Commission discourse can be regarded as contributing towards creating this area without internal borders for movement of people.
The focus on these practical obstacles to movement indicates that Commission discourse on this matter is not only concentrated on eliminating functional barriers. It is also becoming more concerned with establishing a common identity in the EU. This is evident from the following Commission articulations: “Transnational mobility … contributes to the development of „European citizenship‟ complementing existing citizenship, of the country of origin.”69 It is anticipated that with the increased freedom of movement: “should come a growing European consciousness instilled through greater 68 Vladimir Špidla, The European Year of Workers’ Mobility, SPEECH/06/248, 24.04.2006, p. 4 69 European Commission, Education – Training – Research. The Obstacles to Transnational Mobility, COM (96) 462 final, 2.10.1996, p. 1 144 awareness of others as a result of exposure to new cultures and societies. Mobility within the Community ought to contribute to the development of solidarity between all Europeans at all levels …”70 This is considered to be a fundamental condition for the emergence of a true “citizens‟ Europe” without which it is impossible to conceive of a European social area.71 Thus, in the field of free movement, Commission discourse constructs a common area through the elimination of functional borders by the adoption of a number of technical, legal and administrative measures. These, however, in recent years have been more and more accompanied by subtler measures that can eventually contribute substantially to the emergence of a common identity in the EU.