Ministerial Conferences

Regional conferences

Convention on migrant workers



Integral text of the Convention

Text available in other languages: DE; GR; HU; LT; PL; RO; RU; SLK; SP; UA

Open for signature : 24 November 1977
Entry into force : 1 May 1983

Reporting system
8th periodical report on the application of the Convention - only in English

Treaty is only open to member states of the Council of Europe.

The Convention aims to eliminate the discrimination that exists in national legislations and to guarantee that migrant workers and members of their families are treated no less favourably than the nationals of the receiving State.

The Convention covers the principal aspects of the legal situation of the migrant workers, in particular in such areas as recruitment, medical examinations and occupational tests, travel, residence and work permits, family reunion, conditions of work and transfer of savings. It also covers the issues of social security, medical and social assistance, expiry of work contracts, licensing, re-employment and the right to appeal to the judiciary or administrative authority of the receiving State.

The System of Control
A consultative committee examines periodically the reports with the information on the application of the Convention submitted by the contracting parties. The consultative committee presents a report, drafted on the basis of these documents, to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe (see more).

Personal Scope of Application
Nationals of any contracting party legally employed and resident on the territory of another contracting party, provided that the duration of a work contract exceeds six months.

Related Treaties
The European Convention on the Legal Status of Migrant Workers (ETS no. 93) forms, together with the (revised) European Social Charter (Articles 18 and 19 in particular) and the European Convention on Social Security ((ETS no. 78), an ensemble of rights that strengthens the protection of migrant workers.

Advantages entailed by the ratification of the Convention :

EU member States and applicant countries :

Although the EU is discussing the adoption of a more uniform policy concerning certain questions covered by the Convention, EU member States as well as the EU as a whole, should be interested in the Convention for the following reasons:

  • Shared responsibility: migration cannot be effectively managed unless all the relevant actors perform their respective roles (countries of origin, transit and destination);
  • Since the signing of the Treaty of Amsterdam, the questions related to migration fall into the area of EU responsibility;
  • EU member States are the preferred countries of destination for migrants from other member States of the Council of Europe;
    The Convention offers a multilateral basis for managing migration (EU directives are implemented unilaterally);
  • The Convention will represent, in the event that the number of contracting parties grows, a positive signal for non-EU countries regarding the treatment to be afforded migrant workers and also will contribute to strengthening the efforts of these countries to limit irregular migration;
  • The Convention remains, for applicant countries, the only European-wide mechanism for regulating migration of their labour force during the accession and transitional periods, when free movement of their nationals is likely to be limited;
  • The ratification of the Convention is a commitment undertaken by the member States of the Council of Europe in the final declaration of the Ministerial Conference in Helsinki (16-17 September 2002).

Non-EU member States :

Council of Europe member States, which are not going to join the EU during the next phase of enlargement, are also experiencing serious migration problems. For these States, which serve mainly as suppliers of the labour force, the Convention is very attractive because it:

  • offers a multilateral legal framework to strengthen cooperation and dialogue in the area of migration;
  • facilitates the conclusion of bilateral agreements concerning labour migration;
  • opens the possibility for nationals of Council of Europe member States to seek legal employment in the EU, especially nationals of those States which are not members of the EU;
  • provides, on the basis of equal treatment with nationals of the receiving State, guarantees for the protection of the economic and social rights of migrant workers, including the right to transfer funds to their countries of origin;
  • facilitates reunion of migrant workers with their families;
    reduces the administrative costs related to working abroad, especially those in connection with the issue of residence and work authorisations;
  • leads to the improvement of legal measures or administrative arrangements and contributes to improving the protection of migrant workers;
  • is likely to contribute, in the event that the number of contracting parties grows, to the concerted management of migration and help tackle the problem of irregular migration;
  • its ratification is one of obligations accepted by the member States of the Council of Europe in the final declaration of the Ministerial Conference in Helsinki (16-17 September 2002).