Citizens of the European Union are entitled to look for employment in another member state, subject to the same local legislation applied to the workers of that state. This right is supplemented by a sort of entitlement to 'job placement' in other member states. Offering such services in a transnational context requires the cooperation of national public employment services, however.
This cooperation was explicitly prescribed in 2016 by the new EURES-directive (EU) 2016/589. It outlines a European network of public employment services that 'afford workers and employees access to mobility-promoting services.' After many years of EURES cooperation, the focus is now on what EURES is actually accomplishing and what it might accomplish in the future.
Cooperation in terms of job-placement services in the Meuse-Rhine Euregio dates back to the 1990s, when the foundations of a EURES network were being laid. Since 2015, after a series of individual reform measures, the EU Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI) programme has been providing funding as part of its annual plans.
The various definitions and processes have been the subject of debate within the EURES partnership for many years. This debate has been fuelled by the differences in national priorities, the nature of the tasks and means of public employment services, and the role of EURES in each national context.
The new EURES directive now provides definitions for a number of terms, including 'worker,' 'employment seeker,' 'public employment service,' 'border worker,' and 'job vacancy'. So far, however, these definitions have not simplified or improved the documentation and evaluation methods of EURES activities in the Meuse-Rhine Euregio or in the expanded network, because they play a very minor role in the different approaches and processes within the EURES partner organisations.
The bottom line is that each partner's public employment service has different legal duties and works with different instruments, internal definitions, and monitoring processes. Although this applies primarily to the regular, non-EURES services, it equally affects EURES activities linked to these services. This situation makes it difficult to establish a common method of reporting EURES activities. The current method is based on the monthly reports by individual EURES consultants, but these reports are poorly coordinated, given that they are aligned nationally and follow national regulations.
With this in mind, it is of particular concern that the differences in approaches and definitions, as highlighted by a comparison of the five partner organisations in the Meuse-Rhine Euregio, are the cause of inconclusive data on the current counts of successful cross-border job placements. In this case, no numbers would be better than unsubstantiated numbers that could lead to false conclusions about the performance of the national EURES organisation. In addition, the study has demonstrated the continued importance of making substantial improvements to how local public employment services report job vacancies to the European Commission's EURES portal. Currently, the available numbers are ill-suited to draw conclusions on the actual labour markets and are rather indicative of the various reporting approaches.
The way in which individual consultants are free to decide how they report services provided by EURES is being brought into question. Those practically involved in EURES activities rightfully see these efforts, including the coordination with regular services, as 'teamwork', referring to both national and international teams. This is in line with the philosophy of the EURES partnership. One substantial recommendation of the study is to depart from documenting the activities of individual EURES consultants that aim to evaluate EURES services and to instead discuss options for evaluating the joint performance of EURES teams, especially the cross-border teams, in the future. The recent improvements in the functioning of cross-border teams along the border between Germany and the Netherlands, such as in the South Limburg/Aachen region, could provide useful models for developing shared instruments for the evaluation of such teams.