Ireland Immigrant Council Welcomes Lifting Work Ban on Bulgarians, RomaniansBulgaria in EU | July 23, 2012, Monday // 19:03| views
Photo from euobserver.com
The Immigrant Council of Ireland (ICI) has welcomed the decision of the Irish government that Bulgarian and Romanian citizens will be free to work in Ireland immediately, the NGO said in a statement Monday.
The ICI points out that the move comes 17 months ahead of schedule as, under the terms of Bulgaria's and Romania's accession into the European Union in 2007, it was agreed there would be a seven-year transition period before their citizens would get full access to the labor market in other EU member states.
"The Immigrant Council of Ireland fully welcomes the Irish Government's decision to lift restrictions on Bulgarian and Romanian citizens who wish to work in Ireland," said Brian Killoran, Information and Referral Service Coordinator of the ICI.
"In practice, the restrictions placed upon Romanian and Bulgarian nationals since their accession to the EU in 2007 have been a source of huge confusion and lack of clarity as regards their rights and entitlements," he added.
"For the past five years questions concerning this area of immigration policy have consistently been one of the most frequent queries received by the ICI's Information and Referral Service helplines from both individuals and organizations. This announcement by the Government will go a long way towards clarifying the rights of this group of people," Killoran explained further.
The lifting of work restrictions comes after a review by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation found that while work permit applications from the two countries peaked at 3,600 in 2003, they fell to just over 500 applications in total last year, the ICI points out.
The review also found that the population of Romanians and Bulgarians living in Ireland fell by around 3 000 between 2008 and 2011.
"Since both countries were admitted into the EU, Europe has gone through a seismic shift in its economic fortunes. The downturn has led to fewer Bulgarians and Romanians coming to Ireland to seek work. With decreasing work permit applications being submitted from these citizens, it is clear they understand the reality of Ireland's employment crisis, and have acted accordingly, thereby reducing the need for any work restrictions to be in place," Killoran stated.
Only nine of the 27 other EU member states currently retain restrictions of any sort on access to their labour markets by Bulgarian and Romanian nationals.
The Immigrant Council of Ireland is an independent human rights organisation that advocates for the rights of migrants and their families and acts as a catalyst for public debate and policy change.
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