31 May 2020

Workers with freedom of movement in the EU

The Commission has issued new practical advice to ensure that mobile workers within the EU, in particular those in critical occupations to fight the coronavirus pandemic, can reach their workplace. This includes but is not limited to those working in the health care and food sectors, and other essential services like childcare, elderly care, and critical staff for utilities. Together with the Guidance on the implementation of the temporary restriction on non-essential travel to the EU also issued, this responds to requests made by EU leaders on 26 March and seeks to address practical concerns of citizens and companies affected by the measures taken to limit the spread of the coronavirus, as well as of national authorities implementing the measures.

While it is understandable that Member States have introduced internal border controls to limit the spread of the coronavirus, it is imperative that critical workers are able to reach their destination without delay.

The guidelines published identify a range of workers that exercise critical occupations, and for which continued free movement in the EU is deemed essential. 

Member States should allow workers to enter the territory of the host Member State and have unhindered access to their place of work if they exercise in particular one of the following occupations;

  • Health professionals including paramedical professionals;
  • Personal care workers in health services, including care workers for children, persons with disabilities and the elderly;
  • Scientists in health-related industries;
  • Workers in pharmaceutical and medical devices industry;
  • Workers involved in the supply of goods, in particular for the supply chain of medicines, medical supplies, medical devices and personal protective equipment, including in their installation and maintenance;
  • Information and Communications Technology Professionals;
  • Information and Communications Technicians and other technicians for essential maintenance of the equipment;
  • Engineering professionals such as energy technicians, engineers and electrical engineering technicians;
  • Persons working on critical or otherwise essential infrastructures;
  • Science and engineering associate professionals (includes water plant technicians);
  • Protective services workers;
  • Firefighters/Police Officers/Prison Guards/Security Guards/ Civil Protection Personnel;
  • Food manufacturing and processing and related trades and maintenance workers;
  • Food and related products machine operators (includes food production operator);
Transport workers, in particular:
  • Car, Van and Motorcycle Drivers, Heavy Truck and Bus Drivers (includes Bus and tram drivers) and ambulance drivers, including those drivers who transport assistance offered under the Union Civil Protection Mechanism and those transporting repatriated EU citizens from another Member State to their place or origin;
  • Airline pilots;
  • Train drivers; wagon inspectors, maintenance workshops’ staff as well as the infrastructure managers’ staff involved in traffic management and capacity allocation;
  • Maritime and inland navigation workers;
  • Fishermen;
  • Staff of public institutions, including international organisations, in critical function.

Other workers

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