Plumbers should be able to ply their trade across EU member states using professional identity cards under proposals designed to re-launch the Single Market Act this week.

The European Commission (EC) is considering a proposal made in 2005 for professional ID cards.

In January, the EC set up a steering group to consider and will this week push for this group to produce "meaningful ideas" so that it can finally transform the professional identity cards into reality. The proposal is likely to revive fears among West European countries about immigration.

During the 2005 referendum campaign on the European Constitution in France, the 'Polish plumber' stereotype embodied popular fears about East European workers affecting the labour market.

Legislation to allow the scheme, if it goes ahead, is expected by autumn 2012.