Freedom of movement for workers is one of the cornerstones of the European Union and its internal market. It is enshrined in Article 45 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and the rights of workers and corresponding obligations of Member States are further elaborated in Regulation 492/2011. The concept of citizenship of the European Union on the other hand, was introduced by the Maastricht Treaty and made it possible to strengthen the rights that nationals of Member States, i.e. EU citizens, possess. Citizenship comes with a set of rights, one of them being the right to move to another EU country and reside there, which is enshrined in Art. 21 of the TFEU and in the Directive 2004/38/EC. It should also guarantee the right to equal treatment.
Despite the fundamental importance of free movement of workers in the EU, the number of mobile Union workers remains relatively low. In 2013, the European Commission concluded that the best solution to facilitate freedom of movement within the EU is to create a new public body in each Member State. The legislative proposal of the Commission was adopted in April 2014 as Directive 2014/54/EU on measures facilitating the exercise of rights conferred on workers in the context of freedom of movement for workers. Since May 2016, Member States have been obliged either to establish a new body or entrust an already existing body with new competences and guarantee its functioning to help better enforce EU rules on free movement of workers.
Following the adoption of Directive 2014/54/EU, in April 2015 three equality bodies had already been designated as freedom of movement bodies under art. 4 of the Directive. Nine more equality bodies reported that they are likely to be designated as bodies under the Directive. The reason why equality bodies in several EU Member States were being entrusted with these tasks is due to the fact, that the method of work is very similar to their already existing competences on discrimination and equal treatment. As a result, the majority of EU Member States (17) have designated equality bodies as freedom of movement bodies.
Following the end of the transposition period of Directive 2014/54/EU, Equinet set up a Freedom of Movement Cluster in 2018, meant for staff of equality bodies, which have been mandated as freedom of movement bodies, working on discrimination of Union workers. It has served as a space to build the capacity of equality bodies to exercise their new mandate and assist them in realizing their full potential, while forging stable links with other partners working on the topic of freedom of movement.
Based on the work of Equinet’s Freedom of Movement Cluster, this discussion paper presents an overview of the mandates and functions of equality bodies mandated as freedom of movement bodies. It provides examples of casework, research projects, promotional campaigns and other good practices. Meant to be useable by anyone working in the field, it also identifies relevant external partners working on the topic of freedom of movement. Finally, it discusses the ongoing challenges that these bodies face in their daily work and in fully realizing their potential, while providing recommendations on both the national and EU level.