Freedom of movement for professionals: an assessment of the effectiveness of European Union policy and the barriers that remain

S.M. Davis, M.N.K. Saunders

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    A primary objective of the Treaty of Rome (1957) was to enable professionally qualified persons to practise anywhere in the European Union without re-qualifying. Such freedom of movement was deemed necessary to ensure an efficient internal labour market within which the professionally qualified could migrate. However progress to ensure mutual recognition of qualifications was extremely slow. The 1989 Diplomas Directive represented an effort to speed up this process, relying on the principle of mutual trust. A person who has met the required standards for a profession in one state should in theory have met the standards for all states. Despite this, uncertainty has been expressed over whether this will effectively facilitate inter-union migration. Migration research reveals a variety of organisational and personal factors that also affect the likelihood of migration. The impact of these, along with that of the Directive, differs for potential migrants already contracted by an organisation, those moving with a contracted migrant and those migrating to search for work. Published and unpublished data, principally from the UK, indicate that the Directive has had very little impact on migration. Rather, the Directive has reinforced barriers to migration such as professional protectionism. These barriers are greatest for potential migrants who wish to change organisations or move prior to searching for work. Using the force field analysis technique the barriers can be conceptualised as restraining forces on migration. These must be overcome to allow true freedom of movement within the European Union. Barriers include those where the Commission and professional bodies can exert a high degree of influence as well as those which employers can help reduce. Without the removal of these impediments, policy will continue to be ineffective. Professionals will be less likely to migrate and organisations will experience labour shortages in certain areas.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)199-218
    Number of pages20
    JournalJournal of Applied Management Studies
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 1997

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