Telicka: EU should beware transition period on free movement of labour

The Czech Republic's negotiator for EU accession, Pavel Telicka, claims that a transition period for the free movement of labour in an expanded EU could have a negative influence on public opinion in candidate countries. There is widespread public concern in several EU member states, in particular Germany and Austria, over a possible influx of cheap labour from candidate countries after they join the EU. Some EU politicians have called for a transition period of up to seven years, during which time workers from candidate countries would be prevented from working in current member states. Mr. Telicka warned the EU on Monday that this is also a sensitive issue in candidate countries. The Czechs are due to go to the polls in 2002 in parliamentary elections, and Mr. Telicka believes that restrictions on workforce movement would be used by some parties as political capital.