Following the 2004 EU enlargement, the beginning of the economic crisis in 2008, and subsequent austerity measures, a significant number of EU citizens from mostly Eastern Europe employed in low skilled occupations across Europe have raised a number of questions with regards to the meaning of EU citizenship as a set of rights and privileges. While employment in the destination country represents an opportunity for many, some of the mobile EU citizens have faced serious violations of their labour rights similar to those experienced by non-EU migrant workers. This is despite the fact that legally they are on an equal footing with domestic workers in the particular national labour markets. At the same time, the meaning of EU citizenship is being redrawn with calls to restrict access to national labour markets or social welfare for EU citizens from other EU countries as can be seen in political debates in a number of EU countries (e.g. the BREXIT discussion). The patterns of labour rights violations as well as issues such as social dumping raise serious questions for the meaning of labour mobility today and the possibility to safeguard social standards in Europe.
The LABCIT project, “Testing EU Citizenship as Labour Citizenship: From cases of Labour Rights Violations to a strengthened Labour Rights Regime”, which is co-funded by the Europe For Citizens Programme of the European Union, joined together twelve partners from eleven countries to investigate cases of labour rights violations of mobile EU citizens. The project held several hearings and consulted with over 250 workers, labour experts, and civil society actors and stakeholders.
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