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IMMIGRATION

EXPLAINED: What are the main obstacles to finding a job when moving to an EU country?

Moving to another country is never easy, as it requires going through cultural changes and administrative formalities. It can be even more complicated when looking for a job.

EXPLAINED: What are the main obstacles to finding a job when moving to an EU country?
The lack of skills in the national language is most commonly cited as a hurdle for immigrants, especially in Sweden (Photo by Jessica Pamp on Unsplash)

According to new data released by the EU statistical office, Eurostat, the knowledge of the national language and the recognition of professional qualifications are the two most common obstacles experienced by foreign-born people in finding a ‘suitable’ job in countries of the European Union.

Overall, about a quarter of people born outside the EU who had experience in working or looking for work in the bloc reported some difficulties getting a ‘suitable’ job for level of education (without considering the field of expertise or previous experience).

The Eurostat analysis shows that the situation is better for EU citizens moving within the bloc. But there are major differences depending on countries and gender.

Life can be more difficult for women

In 2021, 13.2 percent of men and 20.3 percent of women born in another European Union country reported obstacles in getting a suitable job in the EU place of residence.

These proportions however increase to 20.9 percent for men and 27.3 percent for women born in a non-EU country with a high level of development (based on the United Nations’ Human Development Index) and 31.1 percent for men and 35.7 percent for women from non-EU countries with a low or medium level of development.

Finland (42.9 percent), Sweden (41.7 percent), Luxembourg (34.6 percent) and France (32.1 percent) are the countries with the highest shares of people born outside the EU reporting problems. Norway, which is not part of the bloc, has an even higher percentage, 45.2, and Switzerland 34.3 percent.

In contrast, Cyprus (11.2 percent), Malta (10.9 percent), Slovenia (10.2 percent), Latvia (10 percent) and Lithuania (6.7 percent) have the lowest proportion of people born outside the EU reporting difficulties.

Lack of language skills

The lack of skills in the national language is most commonly cited as a hurdle, and it is even more problematic for women.

This issue was reported by 4.2 percent of men born in another EU country, 5.3 percent of those born in a developed country outside the EU and 9.7 percent of those from a non-EU country with a middle or low level of development. The corresponding shares for women, however, were 5.6, 6.7 and 10.5 percent respectively.

The countries where language skills were more likely to be reported by non-EU citizens as an obstacle in getting a relevant job were Finland (22.8 percent), Luxembourg (14.7 percent) and Sweden (13.1 percent).

As regards other countries covered by The Local, the percentage of non-EU citizens citing the language as a problem was 12.4 percent in Austria, 10.2 percent in Denmark, 7.8 percent in France, 5.1 percent in Italy, 2.7 percent in Spain, 11.1 percent on Norway and 10.1 percent in Switzerland. Data is not available for Germany.

Portugal (77.4 percent), Croatia (68.8 percent), Hungary (58.8 percent) and Spain (58.4 percent) have the highest share of people from outside the EU already speaking the language as a mother tongue before arriving, while more than 70 percent of non-EU citizens residing in Denmark, Finland, Luxembourg and Norway said they had participated in language courses after arrival.

Lisbon Portugal

Portugal has the highest share of people from outside the EU already speaking the language as a mother tongue before arriving. (Photo by Aayush Gupta on Unsplash)

Recognition of qualifications

Another hurdle on the way to a relevant job in EU countries is the lack of recognition of a formal qualification obtained abroad. This issue was reported by 2 percent of men and 3.8 percent of women born in another EU country. It was also mentioned by 3.3 percent of men and 5.9 percent of women born in a developed country outside the EU, and 4.8 percent of men and 4.6 percent of women born in a less developed non-EU country.

Eurostat says this reflects an “unofficial distrust” among employers of qualification obtained abroad and the “low official validation of foreign education”.

The lack of availability of a suitable job was another factor mentioned in the survey. In Croatia, Portugal and Hungary, this was the main obstacle to getting an adequate position.

This issue concerned 3.3 percent of men and 4.5 percent of women born in another EU country, 4.2 percent of men and 5 percent of women born in a developed non-EU country It also worried 3.9 percent of men and 5.1 percent of women born in a less developed non-EU country.

Restricted right to work due to citizenship or residence permits, as well as plain discrimination on the grounds of origin were also cited as problems.

Discrimination was mostly reported by people born in a less developed non-EU country (3.1 percent for men and 3.3 percent for women) compared to people born in highly developed non-EU countries (1.9 percent for men and 2.2 percent for women).

Citizenship and residence permits issues are unusual for people from within the EU. For people from outside the EU, this is the only area where women seem to have fewer problems than men: 1.6 percent of women from developed non-EU countries reported this issue, against 2.1 percent of men, with the share increasing to 2.8 and 3.3 percent respectively for women and men from less developed non-EU states.

The article is published in cooperation with Europe Street News, a news outlet about citizens’ rights in the EU and the UK.

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POLITICS

2024 EU elections: What you need to know as an Austrian resident

The year 2024 brings the much anticipated EU elections. Who gets to vote, why does the election matter and more of the important questions for Austrian residents.

2024 EU elections: What you need to know as an Austrian resident

Across Europe, people will go to the polls in early June to select their representatives in the European Parliament, with 20 seats up for grabs in Austria. 

When is the vote taking place?

Polling takes place across Austria on Sunday, June 9th.

Polling stations will generally be set up in the same places as national and local elections – usually town halls, schools and other public buildings.

Voters can choose between postal voting or physically attending an assigned polling station. A ballot card is sent to all eligible voters in the post ahead of the election.

READ ALSO: Austria’s ‘super-election year’: What will be decided and when?

Who can vote?

In EU parliamentary elections, nationals of all EU countries who reside in Austria can both vote in the elections and run for office.

Nationals of non-EU countries cannot vote or run in these elections.

To be eligible to vote and run in the EU elections, you must either be eligible to vote in the Austrian general elections or be an EU national who resides in Austria. You must be 18 years old or older.

Foreign-based Austrians can also vote in EU elections in Austria if they live in another EU country (but not a non-EU country).

READ ALSO: The five numbers you need to understand the EU

How does the election work?

The system for European elections differs from most countries’ domestic polls.

MEPs are elected once every five years. Each country is allocated an MEP roughly based on its population size.

At present, there are 705 MEPs. Germany—the country in the bloc with the largest population—has the most, while Malta has the smallest number, just six.

At the last elections in 2019, France had 74 MEPs, but it has since gained an extra 5, bringing it to 79. This is partly due to the UK’s exit from the EU and some of its 73 European Parliament seats being shared among other countries.

In the run-up to the election, the Austrian political parties decide on who will be their Spitzenkandidaten (candidates heading the list) for the European parliament. These people have a high chance of being elected. The further down the list a name appears, the less likely that person is to be heading to parliament.

The Spitzenkandidaten are generally responsible for running that party’s election campaign and becoming their spokesperson on European issues. 

Once in parliament, parties usually seek to maximise their influence by joining one of the ‘blocks’, which are made up of parties from neighbouring countries that broadly share their interests and values, such as centre-left, far-right, or green.

The parliament alternates between Strasbourg and Brussels.

Why does the European Parliament matter?

Plenty of high-relevance issues—like national defence and healthcare—are still primarily decided by national parliaments. That’s likely to remain so, but the European Parliament has the power to act in a few key areas.  

It scrutinises all laws the EU’s executive—or the European Commission—proposes and can also request legislation. Plenty of recent high-profile EU laws have come at its insistence. These include the end of roaming charges in the EU and GDPR, which now sets data privacy standards around the globe.

In addition to regulations on tech and artificial intelligence, expect MEPs to debate a lot of legislation around consumer protection, food safety, certain actions on climate change and transition like the European Green Deal, trade deals, and Europe’s support for Ukraine and whether it will eventually become a member of the EU.

Since Austria is heading for a general election later this year, the EU vote and the campaigns will also serve as an important thermometer ahead of the National Council vote in autumn.

READ ALSO: What issues do Austrians care about the most?

How are the elections expected to go?

Polls show the far-right FPÖ has a sizeable lead for the European elections in Austria – and jumped to 27 percent of voting intentions from the 17.2 percent they got last time. 

This is in line with the populist right rise in Europe, where polls everywhere from Sweden to France and the Netherlands show right-wing parties having the potential to make some significant gains over their 2019 results.

READ ALSO: ‘Wake-up call’: Far-right parties set to make considerable gains in 2024 EU elections

In 2019, the centre-right ÖVP got the most votes, ensuring seven seats in the EU Parliament. They were followed by the centre-left SPÖ, with five seats, then the FPÖ and the Greens, each with three, and the liberal NEOS, with one seat.

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