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Free movement of workers was a defining principle of European integration, enshrined in the founding Treaties. As a result, EU citizens now enjoy equal treatment with nationals in accessing employment and working conditions. At the same time, the harmonisation of national social policy regimes has been a continuous challenge for European institutions, as Member States have different historical traditions and socio-cultural backgrounds.

Workers and European Identity

Mine workers in Central Sicily (Italy), 1962. HAEU, BEI 2157 – Photo: Unknown
Miners of a coppice coal mine, 1958. HAEU, CEAB09 586 – Photo: Unknown

First European passports issued by the ECSC,1953. HAEU, CEAB02 122. Photos: ERSC/USI and unknown authors

Workers’ Rights

The Court of Justice of the European Communities in 1969 deliberated that a migrant worker who interrupted his employment for purposes of military service in his country is entitled to have that period taken into account for calculation of his pension rights.

Jacqueline Nonon (FR)
European Commission official, 1958-1980. HAEU, INT 226

Sentence of the Court of Justice of the European Communities, 15 October 1969: Württembergische Milchverwertung-Südmilch AG v Salvatore Ugliola. [Case 15-69]. HAEU, CJUE 306

Directive 2004/38/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council recently implemented the right of citizens of the Union and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States.

Excerpt of the Directive 2004/58/EC. Official Journal of the European Union, L 158/77, 30.04.2004. ​

Free movement across Europe

Poster on job opportunities across Europe. HAEU, NDG 341​
Poster “Free movement” produced by the European Parliament. HAEU, NDG 284
Poster on the event “Tour pour l’emploi ’97” produced by the European Trade Union Confederation. HAEU, NDG 451

Fabrizia Baduel Glorioso: supporting workers’ rights

Fabrizia Baduel Glorioso (Perugia 1927-2017) was a trade unionist involved in Italian and European associations and institutions. In 1978 she was elected President of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), the advisory committee composed of employers, trade unionists and representatives of civil society organizations. She was the first woman to be elected president of an institutional body of the European Communities.

“Western Europe has an impressive cultural heritage, it has the experience and the productive potential of a vast industrialised area […] Western Europe also enjoys the historical culture of a huge workers’ movement.”

Taken from the inaugural speech of Fabrizia Baduel Glorioso to the EESC, 17 October 1978 (translated from Italian)
Fabrizia Baduel Glorioso involved in union activities at the Confederazione Italiana Sindacati Lavoratori (CISL), probably 1952. HAEU, FBG 89 – Photo: Unknown
Fabrizia Baduel Glorioso during the 163rd plenary session of the EESC, Brussels, 29-30 November 1978. HAEU, FBG 107 – Photo: Unknown
Fabrizia Baduel Glorioso, 17 October 1978. HAEU, FBG 105 – Photo: Unknown