Following the lead of the UK and Ireland, Spain decides to restrict Bulgarian and Romanian access to its labour market.
One week after the United Kingdom announced that it would restrict the access of Bulgarian and Romanian workers to its labour market, the Spanish government has decided to follow suit. Spain had already applied a two-year restriction on workers from the EU-10 and will now follow the same policy on Romania and Bulgaria.
According to the Spanish government, some 400,000 Romanians and 160,000 Bulgarians already live and work in Spain, only around half of them legally, and an open-door policy on workers would mean the automatic legalisation of all immigrants who are already resident in the country. Due to language similarities, Spain and Italy are expected to be important immigration destinations, particularly for Romanian workers.
Bulgaria and Romania are set to join the EU in January 2007 and currently only the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Poland, the Slovak Republic and Sweden plan to open their labour markets. Under the current EU rules, Bulgarians and Romanians can, however, still travel to all EU member states as tourists and work in them on a self-employed basis.
The year 2006 was designated the European Year for Workers’ Mobility.