August 2014

IZA DP No. 8383: How Far Away Is a Single European Labor Market?

revised version published as 'European Labor Market Integration: What the Experts Think' in: International Journal of Manpower, 2017, 38 (7), 954-974 [Details & Download]

A Single European Labor Market, particularly involving the free movement of workers within Europe, has been a goal of the European community since the 1950s. Whereas it may entail opportunities and drawbacks alike, the benefits – such as greater economic welfare for most citizens – are supposed to outweigh the losses. However, over fifty years after the aim was first established, a Single European Labor Market has not yet been achieved. This paper gives an overview of current European macroeconomic trends, with a particular focus on the Great Recession, and also explores the drivers of and obstacles to labor mobility. Complementarily, it analyzes the results of a unique opinion survey among labor market experts, as well as formulates policy recommendations to enhance mobility. The development of a Single European Labor Market is also discussed in relation to the German model.