Action plan for skills and mobility

The European labour market can only function correctly if workers are free to move between jobs, between occupations and between countries and regions. It is the Commission's responsibility to ensure that the freedom of movement of workers between Member States, as enshrined in the Treaties, is guaranteed and operates in reality. Action to promote skills development to combat skills shortages and bottlenecks, which act as a brake on the EU's economy, is an integral part of occupational mobility. The Action Plan is designed to ensure that the European labour markets are open to all and accessible for all by 2005.


Communication of 13 February 2002 from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions - Commission's Action Plan for skills and mobility [COM(2002) 72 final - Not published in the Official Journal].


The Action Plan addresses the need to increase the occupational mobility (i.e. changing jobs) of workers from the poorer regions to those of the wealthier regions of the European Union. At present, only 0.1 % of the European population have established their official residence in another country in 2000, and only 1.2 % moved to another region to live in 1999. This low level of geographical mobility is particularly serious when it restricts the occupational mobility of the less advanced regions.

The Action Plan not only identifies the three basic challenges to be addressed, namely the challenge of inadequate occupational mobility, the low levels of geographical mobility and the difficulty of access to information on mobility, but also sets out priority areas for action.

Priority areas for action

The Commission plans to carry out, with full respect for the principle of subsidiarity, priority actions which will address the major challenges of occupational mobility, geographical mobility and lack of information.

To ensure substantial progress in worker mobility in Europe between now and 2005, the Commission proposes the following action priorities:

Expanding occupational mobility and skills development involves:

Facilitating geographical mobility involves:

Improving information and transparency of job opportunities:

The Commission will assess the implementation of the Action Plan annually, at the springtime European Summit.


Achieving the objectives established in Lisbon in March 2000 of more and better jobs, greater social cohesion and the creation of a European area of knowledge requires a skilled and adaptable labour force on more open and more accessible European labour markets. This Action Plan calls for Member States, enterprises and workers themselves to be more responsive to the new requirements of the labour market and also sets the European governments a concrete short-term objective, namely the creation of an EU health insurance card.

Following the Communication on the New European Labour Markets, which launched the debate on mobility at the Stockholm European Council of March 2001, the Commission instructed a high level task force to produce a report, which forms the basis of this Action Plan.

The Action Plan also draws on the new EU initiatives designed to create a European Area of Lifelong Learning and to contribute to the mobility of citizens (see in particular the Recommendation of the Council and the European Parliament on mobility and the associated Action Plan, to which Member States have agreed).

To achieve the objective of creating more open and more accessible labour markets in the EU by 2005, the Commission will ensure that this Action Plan is reflected in the forthcoming review of the European Employment Strategy and in any initiative to establish a European Area of Lifelong Learning.


Report from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 25 January 2007 - Final Report on the Implementation of the Commission's Action Plan for Skills and Mobility [COM(2007) 24 final - Not published in the Official Journal].

The Commission evaluates the execution of the action plan, particularly in the light of the 2004 report, some of whose actions have only just been implemented, and the new integrated economic and employment guidelines 2005-2008.

The action plan helps move towards a European labour market that is open and accessible to all in the context of:

There are nonetheless a number of challenges which require an appropriate response in order to strengthen the implementation of the action plan and guarantee that Europeans are aware of the professional and geographical changes, particularly as regards their rights and opportunities. The main challenges relate to:

Recommendation (EC) No 2006/961 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 December 2006 on transnational mobility within the Community for education and training purposes: European Quality Charter for Mobility [Official Journal L 394, 30.12.2006].

Communication from the Commission of 6 February 2004 to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions - Report on the Implementation of the Commission's Action Plan for Skills and Mobility [COM(2004) 66 final - Not published in the Official Journal]. Against a background of general slowdown in economic activity (in 2002, growth in GDP in the EU was around 1 %, whereas it was forecast at 0.8 % in 2003), the consequent reduction in job vacancies is likely to reduce the propensity to move between jobs and may therefore have a negative impact on overall mobility rates. In 2002, for example, a lower proportion of employees (16.4 %) had been with the same employer for less then one year in 2002 than had been the case in 2000 (17.5 %).

Nevertheless, in weighing up the positive and negative aspects so far, the report points out that occupational mobility has benefited from the adoption of a series of benchmarks by the Council to be achieved by 2010, and a Europass framework to support the transparency and transferability of qualifications. Despite the slow progress on the draft directive to streamline the recognition of qualifications, and on the draft Directive on immigration for work-related purposes, the potential for geographic mobility has been moved forward, in particular thanks to the European Health Insurance Card and improved coordination of social security rights. Information and the transparency of job opportunities have also been encouraged by positive measures such as the opening of the European Job Mobility Portal, the launch of the mobility information campaign and the modernisation of EURES.

The Commission also underlines the growing importance being attached to these issues in the current Employment Guidelines and the associated work under the Education and Training programme. The new European Employment Strategy, agreed by the Council on 22 July 2003, calls upon the Member States to improve, in particular, the recognition and transparency of qualifications and competences and the transferability of social security and pension rights, providing appropriate incentives in tax and benefit systems, and taking into account labour market aspects of immigration. It also calls for job-seekers throughout the EU to be able, by 2005, to consult all job vacancies advertised through the Member States' employment services. The Member States are further encouraged to implement lifelong learning strategies geared closely to the future objectives of the education and training systems.

Finally, the Commission identifies the areas in which action is still needed, namely:

It is, however, important to continue to overcome obstacles to occupational and geographic mobility.

Council Resolution of 3 June 2002 on skills and mobility [Official Journal C 162 of 06.07.2002].

Last updated: 28.06.2007