We believe in people that are eager to acquire new skills and experiences, anywhere in the EU. Alexandre Demé is one of them.
Alexandre is a 25 year-old Frenchman. He has a Master’s degree in biological pharmacology and now works in the product regulation department of a famous cosmetics company - in Luxembourg. This is his story.
Working abroad to escape a tight job market at home
“I graduated two years ago and then started to look for a job in my native country, France. But months passed and I was still unemployed. That is when I started to look for a job abroad. I saw an offer in Luxembourg, went to the interview and immediately got the job. It seemed so simple. See, in Luxembourg, they actually have more job offers than job seekers. I didn't hesitate: I took the job and moved to Metz, a French city on the border of the two countries. Why? Because rent in Luxembourg is very expensive and I could not afford it. And Metz is only half an hour away from my work…"
"So I became a frontier worker. So far I can only see the bright side of my situation, there are so many advantages! My salary is higher than what I would earn in France, and I find the income tax system more convenient than the French one.”
Contributing to both his new country and his old
Just as Alexandre is happy in his new job, Luxembourg has acquired a highly-educated taxpayer in a post that would not have otherwise been filled by the local workforce. Alexandre pays his taxes in Luxembourg and spends his hard-earned cash in France.
He is a perfect example of what a labour migrant in the EU looks like. He is one of a relatively small number - 3.1% - of people in the EU aged between 15-64 that actually work outside their country of origin. And reports show that a very large majority of them actually migrate for professional reasons, not for so-called ‘benefits tourism’.
When it comes to healthcare, unemployed EU migrants on average only cost 0.2% of the overall health budget, according to a recent study carried out by the European Commission.
The study further stated that the welfare systems of EU Member States actually benefited from migrant workers, rebutting claims of those in the EU that want to unravel the concept of free movement of workers.
Time and facts continue to show the economic advantages of opening up national labour markets.
Benefiting workers, employers and families
In the EPP Group we have always fought to make sure that free movement meant that migrant workers were treated equally and had the right to work under the same conditions as Member-State nationals. In the European institutions, we have addressed all the relevant issues, from immigration to labour rights and social security, to create a system that would benefit the worker, his family and his employer.
That would benefit people like Alexandre: “I never regretted my choice of becoming a frontier worker. My fiancée is French and she was living and working in Luxembourg. She moved in with me and now we both became frontier workers!”
Freedom of movement is non-negotiable
The EU’s economic might is based on the foundations of the 'four freedoms': movement of people, capital, goods, services. And as quick as people are to recognise the benefits of the free movement of goods and services, i.e. they can buy a CD from the UK and have it shipped to their country of origin, or the movement of capital in that they don’t need to pay bank charges when using ATMs in another EU Member State, for example, they still do not recognise that the former are impossible without the free movement of people. As the nature of business becomes increasingly cross-border so will the labour force.
This is exactly why the outcome of a recent referendum in Switzerland limiting immigration has caused so much debate. Is free movement really a matter for cherry-picking? Is that even feasible?
Rather than entering into a false debate over respecting a sovereign vote of the Swiss people, which is something that has never been called into question, the debate should rather centre on what the future carries for EU-Swiss relations. Agreements signed have been breached, which opens them wide up to renegotiation. In the EPP Group, we believe freedom of movement is not negotiable.