Germany Fears Mass Influx of East Europeans as of May

Bulgaria in EU | April 18, 2011, Monday // 20:02|  views

Photo by EPA/BGNES

As Germany prepares to open its borders to job-seekers from eight Central and Southern European countries, the predictions are that some one hundred thousand would relocate, half of whom Poles.

Experts have commented that concerns in Germany may be exaggerated due to a number of factors, which will discourage job-seekers - the language barrier, the fact that professional qualifications in many cases will not be automatically recognized, as well as previous poor experience as migrants in Western European countries.

As of May 1 Germany will lift all restrictions on its labor market for workers from Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia.

Four years after they joined the EU, Bulgarian nationals must still obtain permits before they can work in Germany, despite freedom of movement being a founding European principle.

Bulgarian engineers, doctors, cooks and waitresses have the highest chances to find legal employment in Germany, officials have said, citing German data about the available vacancies on the labor market.

A total of 150,000 seasonal workers from Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia will be able to head this year for Germany, a quota that Bulgarian officials find to be sufficient as it is up by 40,000 over the previous year.

Bulgarian jobseekers can get a work permit in Germany only if the employer proves their pay and working conditions won't be worse than that of a German employee with the same skills.

Foreigners, who have worked in Germany after they were promised a legal job, have the right to file a complaint in court and seek their pay even if they have worked illegally, that is without a work permit and without paying taxes or insurances.

In most of the cases however the Bulgarian workers do not sign a written contract and arrive in Germany following a word-of-mouth recruiting, which includes negotiations about the pay per hour and the rent of the place, where the workers are accommodated.

Then they find themselves sharing a single densely packed grotty room and work long hours only to be left high and dry when their, usually Bulgarian, employers vanish into thin air a few months later.

Bulgarian politicians have recently renewed their calls for an open door labor market in the ten older member states, including Germany, that still impose restrictions for job-seekers from the country and its northern neighbor Romania.

Sofia says it does not expect all countries to lift the restrictions to their labor markets simultaneously, but wants to draw the public attention to the issue and pile up pressure on these countries.

The restrictions can be kept for another two years, until 2013, if the countries present evidence to back up their claims that the Bulgarian and Romanian job-seekers are a burden for their labor markets.

German analysts have commented that after the restrictions are lifted, there will be a discrimination of a different sort – the pay for the Germans may fall to the levels, which are just enough to lure Eastern Europeans.

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