Recently we have voted for the accession of our country to the European Union. One section of the agreement about our accession concerns certain transitory periods, which refer, apart from other things, to the so-called free movement of workers. In countries that will put these transitory periods into effect Czech citizens will still be allowed to work only with a work permit. Some member states declared already in advance that they would fully liberate their labour market immediately after the accession of the Czech Republic to the EU, namely Great Britain, the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark and Ireland.
It is expected that Norway and Greece will also liberate their labour markets for our citizens.
The majority of EU member states currently face increasing rates of unemployment. Total rate of unemployment in the Euro-zone (Euro-zone is represented by 12 EU member states, which have accepted Euro as their official currency) in June 2003 amounted to 8,9 %, which means an increase by half of a percentage point compared to June 2002 figures. It is not surprising then that these states try to protect their labour markets against foreign workers.
Is Europe really threatened by influx of Czech labour force? How will the accession of our country to the EU affect interest of Czech citizens to work outside the territory of their homeland? Will they try to work abroad more frequently once the administrative barriers are to a large degree removed? I will try to answer these questions by analysing several issues concerning interest of Czech citizens in working abroad, which have been part of the survey conducted in May by the Centre for Public Opinion Research of the Institute of Sociology of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic within Our Society 2003 (Naše společnost 2003) project.
What experience do the Czech citizens have so far with working abroad? 4 % of respondents over 15 years of age (N = 42) answered positively the question “Have you already worked abroad?” One third of them started working abroad already before 1989, the remaining two thirds left for foreign countries only after the change of the regime. Almost half of the respondents with experience of working abroad stayed abroad on the basis of an interstate agreement (43 %). Others characterized their last employment abroad as commuting to work daily or weekly, seasonal employment not lasting more than three months or an employment on yet a different basis.