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    Gap between EU provisions and practice highlighted

    By admin | November 24, 2006

    The European Citizen Action Service recently hosted an event highlighting the difficulties of workers migrating within the EU. The event featured 14 citizens representing a cross-section of migrant workers explaining their experiences and making recommendations for future action.

    The event highlighted the gap between European principles and lived experience. Participants reported inconsistent application of rules, red tape, and insufficient information.

    The case histories of the 14 citizens are also recounted on the ECAS website. Their stories highlight a number of problems:
    – working below qualifications and barriers to recognising experience earned abroad when returning home
    – the “vicious circle” of formalising residence and looking for jobs
    – hidden obstacles to setting up a company in another EU country
    – pensioners losing out because of poor social security coordination.

    Ireland’s role as both an emigrant and immigrant nation was highlighted in the case studies. Irish woman Eve Geddie, who migrated to Brussels after graduating with a European Masters in Human Rights, said she was treated with disrespect by officials there, and her residence card was delayed, without which employment agencies refused to register her. In this catch-22 situation, she ran out of money and and was not able to get clear information about benefits to which she might be entitled.

    Two Polish women and a Czech man recounted their experiences of working in Ireland. Agata Szarek found a job easily but she experienced discrimination as an employee; she has since started her own business and also interprets for the local Polish community. Through her interpreting duties she has realised the obstacles faced by many, including employer abuse and the language barrier. Meanwhile, Joanna Kasztelan recounted her experience working as a cleaning lady in a bakery. She was forced to carry heavy objects and work extra hours without pay, and was insulted by colleagues. When she found a new job her old employer threatened to withhold her outstanding salary. Ondrej Manda from the Czech Republic, a university graduate, was unable to find a job corresponding to his level of education and could only find work in a factory.

    The report made a number of recommendations:
    – a strong commitment to close the gap between EU Treaty provisions and practice on the ground
    – the creation of a single information source on legal and practical information for citizens and officials
    – training, resources and interpretation services for first-contact officials
    – exploring the possibility of job centres the ability to check the credibility of job offers and inform people of their EU rights
    – exploring the possibility of a personalised number to make it easier for citizens to switch social security and tax systems.

    A full report on the event will be published shortly. Case studies and further information on the event are available on the ECAS website.

    Topics: EU | Comments Off on Gap between EU provisions and practice highlighted

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