France and the Czech Republic have decided to open their borders to Romanian and Bulgarian workers, with France restricting job seekers to those sectors that were already opened to workers from the countries that joined the EU in 2004.
The French government decided, on 30 November 2006, to include Bulgarians and Romanians in a job scheme that applies to workers from eight central and eastern European countries which joined the EU in 2004. The scheme is limited to a number of sectors, such as construction, agriculture, tourism and catering, in which there are labour shortages in France, but will be extended to other sectors.
On a trip to Bucharest, French European Affairs Minister Catherine Colonna stressed that under the scheme workers from the two countries coming to France without a work permit would be regarded as illegal immigrants and face deportation. “The rules will not change,” Colonna said.
Romanian European Affairs Minister Anca Boagiu welcomed the French decision. “France shows Romania that it is a steady partner,” Boagiu said in a first reaction to Colonna’s announcement. The two governments have a close relationship, which was expressed, among other things, by the first Francophonie summit in a new EU member state, on 28 and 29 September 2006 in Bucharest.
Also on 30 November 2006, the Czech government decided not to impose any restriction on Bulgarians and Romanians seeking work in the Czech Republic. “Free movement of workers is one of the four basic freedoms, it is part of a fully fledged EU membership and necessary for the proper working of the EU’s internal market,” said Jan Vytopil, spokesman with the Czech permanent representation in Brussels. He added: “After 1 January 2007, workers from Bulgaria and Romania will be able to apply for work in the Czech Republic without any limitations. Only in the case of serious threats to its labour market the Czech Republic would consider corresponding regulatory measures.”