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ON-THE-MOVE – challenges before the free movement of young Europeans in times of crisis
 
The right of free movement within the European Union is a way for young Europeans to achieve their adequate career path, following their education, and reach a better quality of life. This was the conclusion of the seminar ‘ON-THE-MOVE – challenges before the free movement of young Europeans in times of crisis’, organized on 4 October 2017 by the Center for the Study of Democracy. The event gathered representatives of the State Agency for Bulgarians Abroad, the State Agency for Child Protection, NGOs working with Bulgarian communities in the EU and the US and returning young people, as well as representatives of the private sector.

Dr Maria Yordanova, Director of the Law Program of the Center for the Study of Democracy, presented the main aims of the initiative, under which the seminar took place, and the challenges free movement faces – economic crisis, youth unemployment, as well as the growing number of terrorist attacks throughout Europe.

Miriana Ilcheva, Research Fellow with the Law Program, outlined the main stages of the research under the initiative, delineating aspects of the challenges free movement encounters. During the national phase, interviews had taken place with young people in process of free movement, during the comparative phase reports on groups of countries were drafted, while in the concluding phase useful manuals were produced. The manual for young people tackles the main models and stereotypes, hindering free movement, among which discrimination at the workplace, bureaucracy and language barriers. The manual for authorities presents promising practices from the 15 partner Member States in areas like information on free movement, prevention of brain drain, streamlining of administrative procedures, etc.

Angelina Kaneva, researcher under the project and graduate student at the London University, presented the main conclusions of the national phase on Bulgaria and the key push and pull factors for young Bulgarians to leave their home country and settle abroad. Among the push factors, there are the inadequate opportunities for professional development, the overwhelming corruption and political instability, while the pull factors include better living standard and options for personal and career growth. Barriers to free movement include the intensive competition when finding a job in the EU, instances of discrimination, language barriers and cultural differences.

Dimitar Kararusinov, state expert, Bulgarian Communities and Information Activities Directorate, State Agency for Bulgarians Abroad, presented the Agency’s main priorities in registering, communication with and support for Bulgarian youth communities abroad, as well as for career fora in Bulgaria and other EU Member States via which Bulgarians can move back to their home country. A variety of quantitative and qualitative data was presented on the number of Bulgarians abroad, as well as on the different models Bulgarian students abroad use to associate for mutual support and presenting Bulgarian culture and traditions.

Yulia Georgieva, project manager at Tuk-Tam, outlined the organization’s numerous projects in support of young Bulgarians in process of movement to the EU or the USA, of Bulgarians throughout the world and those returning to the country. Among those are the career forum ‘Career in Bulgaria. Why not?’, whose last edition gathered over 1000 candidates and over 100 companies, and the master programme scholarship fund ‘Go, study and come back’, supported by a number of personal and corporate donors. The organization has ambassadors in a number of countries throughout the world and maintains a rich information fund on studying abroad.

The ensuing discussion pointed to the lack of reliable data on the number of Bulgarians moving to different EU Member States and returning back to Bulgaria to work in marketing, management and IT. The participants reached the conclusion that the modern young European has a high degree of mobility and no one-way trajectory can be true to reality. The moral and practical dimensions of the return of young Europeans to help their home countries were discussed, as well as the intolerance to differences as a push factor. The importance of the co-operation among the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, the Employment Agency, the Bulgarian Investment Agency and the State Agency for Bulgarians Abroad was emphasized in creating conditions for the return of highly qualified experts.

Presentation by Miryana Ilcheva (Adobe PDF, 207 KB, in Bulgarian)
Presentation by Angelina Kaneva, (Adobe PDF, 261 KB, in Bulgarian)
National Report - Bulgaria (Adobe PDF, 728 KB)
Manual for young people (Adobe PDF, 651 KB)
 
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