It's Official: Only Italy Lifts Labor Ristrictions for Bulgarians

Bulgaria in EU | January 6, 2012, Friday // 16:21|  views

"If you don't hold a work permit, you are not allowed to work in the UK," read posters presented as part of an information campaign launched by the British Embassy in Sofia at the end of 2006. Photo by Sofia Photo Agency

Italy officially remains the only EU Member State to lift all restrictions for the access of Bulgarian and Romanian workers to its labor market, effective January 1, 2012.

The news was announced Friday by the Bulgarian news agency BTA, citing a source from the press office of Laszlo Andor, EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion.

The last 10 EU Member States to restrict access of Bulgarian and Romanian workers to their labor markets - Austria, Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Malta, France, Great Britain and Ireland - had a deadline of December 31 2011, to send letters to the European Commission with their decision on the matter.

Germany will partially lift labor restrictions for Bulgarian citizens, while the decisions of France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Malta and on the matter are yet to be announced.

Meanwhile, also on Friday, the IceNews website reported that starting January 1, Bulgarians and Romanians will no longer need to get special residence and work permits to live and work in Iceland. Iceland applied to join the European Union on 16 July 2009. Negotiations formally began 27 July 2010.

The restrictive regime for Bulgarians and Romanians to access labor markets in the EU ends on January 1, 2012 and can be extended no later than January 1, 2014.

The European Commission recently reminded that the extension can be done only after a unanimous decision of local governments and the submission with the Commission of clear grounds, showing that such decision stems from proven negative influence on the respective labor market in the hiring of Bulgarian and Romanians.

The EC clarification came on the heels of the announcement of the British Foreign Affairs Ministry it will extend the restrictions until the end of 2013, as did the Netherlands. In April, Switzerland extended the restrictions for 2012. Iceland and Switzerland are members of the free European economic zone.

Commissioner Andor recommended to all to lift the restrictions – a stand that was backed by a resolution of the European Parliament.

On February 17, EC will announce its assessment of the grounds stated in all letters and if needed can request additional information proving the full opening of labor markets to Bulgarians and Romanians would inflict grave negative consequences for the economies of the respective Member States.

Currently, Bulgarians have full labor rights in Denmark, Estonia, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia, Finland, Sweden, Hungary, Greece, Spain, Portugal and the Czech Republic, and now Italy.

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