Czech Republic to open doors to Romanian, Bulgarian workers

Foto: Europäische Kommission

Great Britain recently made the headlines when it announced that it will not extend its open door policy to workers from Romania and Bulgaria, when the two countries join the European Union in slightly under two months' time. Other states, such as Poland and Finland, will open their labour markets. Now the latter camp has been joined by the Czech Republic. But the labour minister says restrictions could be introduced later, if need be.

Photo: European Commission
Citizens from Romania and Bulgaria will be able to work freely in the Czech Republic when they join the European Union on January 1, the Czech minister of labour and social affairs, Petr Necas, announced on Wednesday.

When the Czech Republic and nine others acceded to the EU in May 2004, only the UK, Ireland and Sweden allowed in workers from the new states. Since then a number of other old members have opened their doors. But countries like Germany and Austria still insist on a seven-year transition period before opening their labour markets.

Photo: European Commission
Mr Necas said if the Czech Republic closed its doors to Romanian and Bulgarian workers it would weaken its negotiating position regarding the rights of its own citizens to work freely everywhere in the EU. And, he said, such a position would be hypocritical.

But Mr Necas also said the Czech Republic reserved the right to change its position in the future. That could happen if most other EU states chose to keep out workers from the two new members. The minister also said he was preparing a change to the labour code, introducing what he called a "system of guarantees".