Free Movement of Workers (Hansard, 2 March 2004)
HC Deb 02 March 2004 vol 418 cc831-2W
Mr. Spring

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what transitional arrangements for the free movement of workers from relevant states among the countries acceding to the European Union have been put in place by(a) Ireland, (b) Denmark, (c) Sweden, (d) Finland, (e) Germany, (f) Austria, (g) the Netherlands, (h) Belgium, (i) Luxembourg, (j) France, (k) Spain, (l) Portugal, (m) Italy and (n) Greece; what transitional arrangements EU partners have indicated they will put in place; and if he will make a statement. [154171]

Mr. MacShane

After Accession on 1 May, nationals from the ten new EU member states will be able to travel freely throughout the EU. However, except for nationals of Malta and Cyprus, they will not automatically be allowed to work in the existing member states. Those existing member states may, however, open their labour markets to nationals from the new member states if they so choose.

  1. (a) Ireland will open their labour markets to nationals from the new member states.
  2. (b) Denmark will open its labour market from 1 May, but has decided to impose a new administrative set-up with work and residence permits for new EU citizens. Citizens from the new member states will be able to stay in Denmark for a six month job-seeking period during which they will not be entitled to social benefit. This rule also applies to other EU citizens. A Work and Residence Permit will be granted for one year (as opposed to five year residence certificate for present EU member states' citizens) only if the person concerned has found a job and will be employed on the same pay and working conditions as those applying on the Danish labour market.
  3. (c) Sweden will open its labour market from 1 May, but the Swedish Government has signalled its intention to introduce transitional arrangements for workers from the new member states. It has yet to bring forward formal proposals.
  4. 832W
  5. (d) Finland will impose a two-year transition period and existing controls on workers from eight of the ten new member states will apply. No restrictions will apply to citizens of Malta and Cyprus.
  6. (e) Germany will apply a transition period for two years, which may be extended to seven. Existing controls on workers from the relevant eight new member states will apply.
  7. (f) Austria will apply a transition period of at least two years. After that, it has indicated that it will follow Germany's lead.
  8. (g) The Netherlands is not imposing a transition period. The Dutch Cabinet agreed on 23 January to introduce a system of work permits for workers from new member states from 1 May. But this proposal was rejected by the Dutch Parliament on 9 February that asked for tougher measures. On 13 February the Dutch Government came forward with new proposals which will only allow workers from new member states to work in sectors where there is a shortage of available suitably qualified Dutch or EU nationals. The Centres for Work and Income (Job Centre Plus equivalent) will decide which sectors have such a shortfall. These regulations will be effective from 1 May 2004 to 1 May 2006. An evaluation of the system will take place before 1 May 2005 to see if these restrictions can be relaxed earlier.
  9. (h) Belgium will impose a transition period of at least two years.
  10. (i) Luxembourg will impose a transition period of at least two years.
  11. (j) France will impose a transition period of at least two years.
  12. (k) Spain will apply a transition period for two years. Depending on developments in the labour market, they may allow new member states citizens full rights to work before the end of the transition period. Spain has a bilateral agreement with Poland to allow a limited number of Poles to work in Spain.
  13. (l) Portugal has yet to decide whether it will open up its labour market to workers from the eight new member states.
  14. (m) Italy has yet to decide whether it will open up its labour market to workers from the eight new member states.
  15. (n) Greece is imposing a two year transition period.

My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary made clear UK Government policy in this House on 23 February 2004, Official Report, columns 23–25. The UK has decided to allow free movement of workers to those who genuinely want to come and work here. Genuine workers from the eight new member states will be allowed access to the UK labour market via a workers registration system. This will benefit the UK economy, expanding the range of skills and supply of workers available across the UK.

Maltese and Cypriot nationals will be free to work anywhere in the EU.

GLOBAL ISLES COURT OF RECORD