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SEGA: Due to the Crisis the EU is Closing its Labour Market to Bulgaria

By Sega Daily. At least 5 Member States of the EU have reconsidered their plans to fully open their labour markets for Bulgarian citizens because of the world economic crisis in the past couple of months, Sega reported. Some of them are Germany, Austria, Luxemburg, Spain, the United Kingdom and Greece. The main reason for that is the growing unemployment among local population.

After we joined the EU half of the member states fully opened their labour markets to our workers. Those were Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Romania, Cyprus, Finland, Hungary, Czech Republic and Sweden. The other countries would let Bulgarians work there only under certain conditions. They have put into action the so called "permit regime" which includes a stage-by-stage opening of labour markets by using various mechanisms - facilitated admission for certain professions, access quotas for certain economic sectors, etc. Each country can impose restrictions on foreign workers for the maximum of 7 years.

Germany for instance is resolved to extend the restrictions on Eastern European worker until 2011 due to the unemployment there, which is close to 7.4% (about 3 million unemployed). The country only makes exception for skilled workers like electrical or machine engineers and college-graduates from German universities.

"Every moment now a decree will be issued to allow all Bulgarian university graduates to work here" Tinka Troeva (adviser on labour and social affairs in our embassy in Berlin) said recently.

Spain also does not give any indications that they would remove the restrictions on Bulgarian workers after 2010. Spain was the first member state of the EU to announce that it reduces its admission of foreign workers by 35%. Those positions would be "secured" for the Spanish people left out of jobs whose number is constantly increasing. This is the EU country with the highest rate of unemployment - 11.3% according to the last research by

"The emigrants in the country are more than 4 million people - that is 10% of the country's population", Raimond Saparev, our labour attaché in Spain comments. According to him only the end of November it will be clear if there would be any changes in the admission regime of Bulgarians in Spain.

Greece bluntly stated that its labour market will continue to be closed for Bulgarians. "The indications for removing the restrictions are not nearly as positive as they were during the summer" Katerina Dimitrova, our labour attaché in Greece commented. According to her there were 300 thousand temporary workers who would soon be without a job. That might lead to increase in the overall unemployment rate and that is why the Greek government receives with reservations opening its labour market to Bulgarians.

Luxemburg plans to continue with its current temporary restrictions on Bulgarians and Romanians for three more years. However the country would still impose a restrictions and a facilitated admission would only be applied to working in agriculture, viniculture and tourism. Austria also does not intend on removing the barriers over its labour market after 2009.

Great Britain would hardly reconsider its "draconian" restrictions to our workers before 2011. London admits about 200 thousand workers every year and unemployment has increased to 5.7% in the last quarter - the highest rate since the year 2000. "British market should be seriously pressured for the British government to ask the EC to continue with its strict measures for additional two years - until 2013" Daryana Kotseva, head of social affairs department at our embassy in London.

It is expected that by the end of the year it would be clear which of the other countries restricting the free admission of Bulgarians to their labour markets would facilitate or just on the contrary - would increase the current measures. Decisions are expected by the Netherlands, Portugal, France, Ireland, Denmark, Belgium, Italy and Malta.

Representatives from Ministry of Labour and Social Policy explained that they do not have any official information on the measures that each country intends to impose on our workers. "In principle there is an option for a country with an open labour market to demand closing it from the EC but this would be in case of extremely serious problems and would would require a very complex procedure. There is no precedent for it and I doubt it there would be one" Dimitur Kalchev, an expert form the social ministry commented.

At the end of the second three year period, i.e. in 2011 the member states would be only able to further restrict admission to their labour markets for two years and only if they would have been in a serious jolt. The decision would be made by the Commission. Only in 2013 the gates before our country people will be wide open.

The trend is the same outside Europe. Australia may reduce the number of immigrants it whom it recruits as a part of the national programme for enrolling of skilled foreigners f the global financial crisis increases the number of unemployed in the country, BBC announced.
Chris Evans, Minister of Immigration and Citizenship, stated that the decision about the reduction of the immigration quota will be made after financial results data for the half-year are announced the following month.

The financial crisis may cause unemployment for 20 million people worldwide be the end of 2009 the director general of the international labour organization Juan Somavia warned. According to data from the organization the unemployment may increase from 190 million in 2007 to 210 million in 2009. "We need fast and coordinated action by the governments in order to prevent social crisis, which can turn out to be serious, long and global" the director general pointed out.

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