"The final removal of obstacles in the German and the Austrian labour markets for workers from eight Central and Eastern European countries is a great opportunity not only for these citizens but also for the European economy as a whole. We have to foster mobility, which is a key driving force for employment and growth", stated Csaba Őry MEP, EPP Group Coordinator in the Employment and Social Affairs Committee of the European Parliament.
Labour market restrictions still in place in Germany and Austria for workers from eight Member States that joined the EU in 2004 (excluding Cyprus and Malta) will be finally removed on 1 May 2011. As a result of this, workers from the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Poland, Slovenia and Slovakia will be able to work freely in the entire territory of the EU27.
Reports made by the European Commission and other think-tanks clearly show the positive effects of labour migration. Analyses predict that with the liberalisation of the German labour market, the employment of the workers coming from these Member States can contribute an additional 0.3-0.6% GDP growth to the German economy. "Promoting free movement of labour is beneficial for the whole of Europe as it increases competitiveness, employment and economic growth. Therefore, we need to further advance the removal of existing labour barriers for workers coming from Romania and Bulgaria and finish the creation of the common and single European labour market", highlighted the Hungarian MEP.
Accession Treaties allow Member States to apply a transitional period in order to gradually introduce the free movement of workers after a new Member State joins the EU. These restrictions can be maintained for up to seven years (the so-called 2+3+2 scheme). When the 10 new states joined the EU in 2004, three Member States, namely Ireland, the UK and Sweden, immediately opened their labour markets, and for the workers of Malta and Cyprus there were no restrictions at all. Most Member States followed this practice between 2006 and 2009. However, Germany and Austria continued to apply restrictions until the 2011 deadline. However, the right to free movement for workers from Bulgaria and Romania (the two Member States that joined the EU most recently in 2007) is currently still restricted by ten Member States, so they will have to wait until a maximum date of 31 December 2013 to benefit from this right.