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Welcome to Johnbirchall-economist.com!
(
EU Free movement of labour)


 

LABOUR MARKET ACCESS

Subject to restrictions: Czech Rep, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia (all 2004); Bulgaria, Romania (2007)

Open doors for 2004 entrants: Finland, Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, UK

Open doors for 2007 entrants: Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Finland, Latvia and Estonia - and almost certainly Sweden

 

 

 

 

Austria

 

Workers from the eight former communist states have to apply for work permits, at least until 2009. Like Germany, Austria justifies the restrictions by pointing to its poor employment situation and the fact that it is geographically close to the new members. Expected to impose restrictions on workers from Bulgaria and Romania too

 

Belgium

 

Belgium imposed restrictions on the eight former communist states which joined the EU in 2004, and said in May 2006 it would not be lifting restrictions imminently, but would improve access to some areas of the labour market. For example, the Brussels region has asked for privileged treatment for nurses, plumbers, electricians, car mechanics, builders, architects, accountants, engineers and IT workers

 

Denmark

 

Since 2004, Denmark has allowed workers from the eight states concerned to look for a job for six months. If they find one, they can have residence and work permits. It will maintain this system between 2006 and 2009 however the parliament has taken a decision to make the labour market increasingly flexible.

 

 

Finland

 

Finland lifted all restrictions on workers from the eight 2004 entrants on 1 May 2006. Previously, citizens of the new member states could get a job without a work permit only if the employment office decided there was no-one else available on the Finnish labour market.

 

Finland was the first of the older EU states to say it would open its doors to workers from Bulgaria and Romania.

 

France

 

France intends to partially lift restrictions, providing fast-track work permits in certain priority areas where recruitment is a problem. These will include restaurant services, industrial maintenance, construction, public works and health.

 

Germany

 

Like Austria, Germany has insisted on continuing restrictions on workers from the former communist states, beyond its eastern borders. Workers from these countries will have to apply for work permits until at least 2009. However, the country issued 500,000 of these permits. "In practice Germany has given as many people work as other big countries," EU Employment Commissioner Vladimir Spidla said on 2 May 2006. Germany is expected to impose restrictions on workers from Bulgaria and Romania too

 

Greece

 

Greece dropped all restrictions on 2004 entrants, as of 1 May 2006

 

Ireland

 

Ireland was one of three countries which opened up its labour markets to all new member states immediately. It did, however, introduce new rules whereby immigrants from all EU countries - not just the new members - would be ineligible for benefits for two years. Immigrants from the UK are the only exception.

However, Ireland decided to introduce a work permit scheme for workers from Bulgaria and Romania, after facing an influx of an estimated 200,000 workers from Central Europe between 2004 and 2006.

The minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Michael Martin, said: "We would argue that Ireland has more than done its bit in terms of supporting the concept of mobility of workers across Europe, and really can't be held to account on that score."

 

Italy

 

Italy initially imposed restrictions on 2004 entrants, but has now dropped them all.

 

 

 

Luxembourg

 

Luxembourg is maintaining restrictions, but will fast-track work permits for workers in certain sectors.

 

The Netherlands

 

The Dutch government had said it would lift all restrictions on 1 January 2007 but was forced to backtrack by parliament. The question will now be reviewed at the end of 2006. The Netherlands already allows fast-track work permits in certain sectors

 

Portugal

 

Portugal dropped all restrictions on workers from the 2004 entrants on 1 May 2006. Between 2004 and 2006 it had a 6,500 annual limit on immigrant workers of all nationalities.

 

Spain

 

Spain dropped all restrictions on workers from the 2004 entrants on 1 May 2006. Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos has said Spain will operate a work permit system for workers from Bulgaria and Romania, for the first two years after their accession, and will then apply an open doors policy. Some 400,000 Romanians are already working legally in the country.

 

Sweden

 

Sweden was one of the three countries, along with the UK and Ireland, which chose to apply no restrictions to workers from the new EU member states. It has indicated that it will take the same liberal line with regard to workers from Bulgaria and Romania

 

UK

 

The UK was one of the three countries, along with Ireland and Sweden, to place no restrictions on workers from the 2004 entrants. However, workers have to register and only become eligible for benefits such as Jobseeker's Allowance and income support after working continuously in the UK for at least a year.

After an unexpectedly large influx of workers from Central Europe - an estimated 600,000 in two years - the UK announced that it would impose restrictions on workers from Bulgaria and Romania. Up to 20,000 will be allowed to take low-skilled jobs in agriculture or food processing, high-skilled workers will be able to apply for work permits to perform a skilled job, and students will be able to work part-time. Self-employed people from Bulgaria and Romania are already allowed to work in the UK and this will continue