Czech Republic refuses E.U.'s position on the free movement of labour

r_2100x1400_radio_praha.png

The Czech Foreign Ministry announced on Thursday that it will not accept the terms of the 'Free Movement of Persons' chapter, one of the thirty-one chapters necessary for European Union accession. The EU member states are seeking a seven year transition period for the free movement of labour by the candidate countries. The European Union has sought this transition period out of fears that cheap labour from Eastern Europe would flood domestic E.U. markets, creating unemployment for their citizens. Helen Belmont has the story.

The Czech Foreign Ministry announced on Thursday that it will not accept the terms of the 'Free Movement of Persons' chapter, one of the thirty-one chapters necessary for European Union accession. The EU member states are seeking a seven year transition period for the free movement of labour by the candidate countries. The European Union has sought this transition period out of fears that cheap labour from Eastern Europe would flood domestic E.U. markets, creating unemployment for their citizens.

While Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia have agreed to these conditions, the Czech Republic has not. The Czech Republic was expected to have completed this chapter by July 27th, but it will now be delayed to accommodate further negotiations.

Helen Belmont spoke to Petr Kubrnat, the Head of the E.U. relations department of the Czech Foreign Ministry, and asked him why the Czech Republic had decided not to accept the terms of the 'Free Movement of Persons' chapter.

"You know, the government decided on the basis of material and documents prepared by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, not to accept the European Union common position on the free movement of labor, the free movement of workers, and to use the further time and the further space for the further negotiations on this issue."

What does the Czech Republic hope to accomplish? What terms would be the best?

"It's very difficult to have what will the best. Of course, the best will be that the EU member states would open their labor markets really from the date of the accession. But you know, or we know, it will not be the case because the common position of the European Union is such that there is the limitation of the excess of our labor to the labor market of the European Union. There is some level of flexibility, together we are speaking about the seven years. But there is the possibility that some states will decide to open their labor market after two years."

Does the Czech Republic have a better chance to negotiate its position since its neighboring countries have already closed this chapter?

"I think yes. I am sure that we will use the time for the further negotiations and we will contact also the member states to discuss this issue with them. Some member states like Sweden, Ireland, or Denmark, already declared that they will be ready to open their labor markets from the date of the accession. Also, the position of Germany and Austria is known, both countries would like to use this common position of the EU and restrict their labor markets, or to restrict it to protect their labor market. We will negotiate , or we will discuss this issue, this question with other member states."

Author: Helen Belmont
run audio