Preservation of the Community Acquis: Tabooization or Problem Solving? - the Case of the Free Movement of Labour

Beáta Farkas

This paper examines the issue of free movement of labour as a case study to highlight that the actors in the European Union's decision making are not prepared to manage the current, very diverse European integration. It describes the process how the rational but theoretically and politically neglected problems of free movement of labour have become essential elements of irrational political discourses and mask vested interests. The mismanagement of the preservation of this Community achievement culminated in the referendum on Brexit.In economic integration theory it was not reflected what can be the impact of free movement of labour if wage differences are as large as they are in the EU-28. The first comprehensive research on this topic was conducted by the IMF staff in 2016. At political level, the topic was put on agenda by a receiver country, the United Kingdom that has gained labour forces and not by sender countries which has been losing labour forces, due to the short run political interests of their governments. Neither the Commission, nor the continental core countries, the ageing societies of which need labour force, are sensitive to the problems of peripheral countries and reacted with tabooization of free movement of labour. While the negotiations between the EU and the UK easily drift toward a lose-lose situation, the possible problems of free movement of labour (brain drain, persistent one-way movement of labour from ageing societies etc.) are unanswered and unsolved. Delays and shortcomings of multilevel governance indicate the direction of necessary changes.

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