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May 12, 2021
BUSINESS

Belgium and Ireland keep doors closed to workers from Bulgaria, Romania

Min Barbu: There’s no economic justification for maintaining restrictions against Romanian workers.

Belgium has become the third (EU) European Union member state to officially prolong the temporary ban on Bulgarian and Romanian workers for two more years, until the beginning of 2014, Novinite informs. Brussels officially notified the (EC) European Commission about its decision late on Friday, just hours after Great Britain and Ireland made a similar announcement. EU countries may prolong a temporary ban on Bulgarian and Romanian workers for two additional years, i.e. until 2014, if they prove that will pose a serious threat to their labor markets. Earlier this week the European Parliament renewed its calls for an open door labor market in the ten older member states that still impose restrictions for job-seekers from Bulgaria and its northern neighbor Romania.

Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg Malta, the Netherlands and UK all still restrict the access of Bulgarian and Romanian workers to their labour markets. Spain is also restricting Romanian workers’ access, with the Commission’s approval, until 31 December 2012, due to serious disturbances on its labour market.

In response to Belgium’s and Ireland’s decision to maintain labour market restrictions against Romanian and Bulgarian workers, the Romanian Minister of Labour, Family and Social Protection, Sulfina Barbu, stated yesterday there was no economic justification for some EU member states’ keeping restrictions in place for Romanian workers, Capital.ro reports. “We still argue there are no economic arguments for maintaining these restrictions, which are motivated by political decisions, rather than economic considerations,” the minister argued, while reviewing the first three months of her mandate.

She added that “we enjoy a partial liberalisation of the labour market in Germany for certain professions, especially those which require higher education”. The Labour Minister further stated that she found a cause for optimism in “the attitude of the European Commission and European Commissioner Laszlo Andor, who gave assurances, in the EPSCO Council even, that he would look very closely and intransigently into the justifications provided by member states which decide to keep labour market restrictions in place and who stated, in the Council assembly even, that such attitudes are derogations from the Joining Treaty, calling on member states to take into consideration the European Court of Justice’s precedents in this respect”.

According to the Labour Minister, a series of bilateral documents aimed to ensure “a more dynamic collaboration on the labour market, as well as reducing undeclared labour” are to be signed in the near future with counterparts in other European states, among which the United Kingdom and the Czech Republic. On the other hand, a couple of days before, on December 15, the European Parliament voted and adopted a resolution calling on the European Commission to set clearly-defined parameters for the economic assessments which they request from countries determined to maintain restrictions in the EU. This refers to punctual standards for the EU member states which have maintained restrictions for Romanian and Bulgarian workers. According to the resolution, “several member states have decided to keep restrictions in place for Romanian and Bulgarian citizens, a decision motivated more often than not by political pressures”. In fact, the EC report of November 11 indicated that Romanians had had on the whole a positive contribution to the economies of countries of destination, as mobility had led, at European level, to a GDP growth-rate of 0.3 pc for EU-27 and 0.4 pc for EU-15.

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