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EU allows Spain ban on Romanian workers

Despite free movement within the EU, Spain will temporarily block Romanians from working in the country.

Another accession issue: This sign at the a border crossing between Romania and Moldova shows Romanian anger and disappointment over not being included in EU borderless travel zone.
Another accession issue: This sign at the a border crossing between Romania and Moldova shows Romanian anger and disappointment over not being included in EU borderless travel zone.

THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION has give Spain the go-ahead to restrict its labour market.

Contradicting the European Union’s rules on the free movement of workers, Romanians will not be allowed enter Spain’s labour market until the end of next year.

Although no new workers can be given a job, Romanians currently in employment in Spain will not be affected.

Commissioner Laszlo Andor said he would allow the restrictions because Spain’s employment was hit hard by the financial crisis.

Currently at 21 per cent, Spain has the highest unemployment rate in the EU.

“This decision has been taken because of the very specific employment situation in Spain. As a rule, I am convinced that restricting the free movement of European workers is not the answer to high unemployment,” said the Commissioner, adding that the focus should be on creating new jobs.

The green light was given by Andor after receiving a letter from Spanish authorities on 28 July requesting a so-called “safeguard clause” to be implemented.

This safeguard clause, written into the Accession Treaty for Romania and Bulgaria, allows for the re-imposition of temporary restrictive measures in any Member State if it is “undergoing or forsees serious labour market disturbances”.

Such restrictions can only be placed against Romanian and Bulgarian workers but Andor is adamant that similar moves will not be implemented elsewhere.

However, workers from both nationalities still have to get work permits from France, UK Germany and Italy as these countries have deterred lifting restrictions.

EU rules dictate that any restriction by Spain on the free movement of workers must be temporary. Andor said the Commission understood why Spain had made the request.

In numbers
-At 21 per cent, Spain’s unemployment rate is the highest in the EU

-About 30 per cent of Romanians in Spain are unemployed

-In the first three months of this year, 191,400 Romanians were unemployed in Spain

-As of January 2010, there are 823,000 Romanian nationals living in Spain but Romania’s foreign ministry believes another 89,000 citizens left for Spain between March 2010 and March 2011.

-Romania was granted membership to the EU in 2007

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