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Europe – Overview of work opportunities for Bulgarians and Romanians published

16 October 2013

Temporary restrictions that imposed passport checks were put in place when the two countries joined the EU in 2007, and are due to be lifted in January. However, each EU country has the right to veto the admission of a member state into the Schengen zone and a vote is expected before the end of the year.

Germany said in March that it opposed the entry of the two countries into the Schengen zone. In September this year, France also advised that it was not in favour of Bulgaria and Romania joining the Schengen agreement.

The European Commission has published an overview about the work restrictions for Bulgarians and Romanians in the European Union, reports standartnews.com. Romanian and Bulgarian citizens currently have the right to travel with a passport throughout the Schengen zone, which removes border controls among most EU countries, as well as non-members; such as Switzerland and Norway.

In Austria, work permits may be issued to workers after a labour market test for 67 professions for which there is a shortage of labour.

Germany has eased restrictions and does not require a work permit for skilled workers with a university degree whose employment corresponds with their qualification, season work, and professional in-firm training. Work permits may be issued without a labour market test for professions that in Germany require the completion of personal training.

Both Austria and Germany apply restrictions on the cross-border provision of services from Bulgaria and Romania in certain sectors; such as the posting of workers.

Belgium requires Bulgarian and Romanian workers to obtain a work permit. Work permits are issued without a labour market test for jobs in professions for which there is a shortage of labour, in particular low-qualified jobs; such as drivers, gardeners, cashiers, or masons.

France requires Bulgarian and Romanian workers to obtain a work permit but has simplified the procedure for 291 occupations for which a work permit is issued regardless of the labour market situation.

Luxembourg requires Bulgarian and Romanian workers to obtain a work permit but has introduced simplified procedures for work in agriculture, viticulture, the hotel and catering industry, and for people with specific qualifications in the financial sector.

Malta grants work permits for positions that require qualified and/or experienced workers and for those occupations for which there is a shortage of workers.

The Netherlands required Bulgarian and Romanian workers to obtain a work permit, but will issue permits provided there are no workers available in the Netherlands or other EU countries and the employer can offer proper working conditions and accommodation. Temporary exemptions may be granted for sectors in which there is a labour shortage.

The United Kingdom requires Bulgarian and Romanian workers to have a work permit. The employer must apply for the permit (except for certain categories of employment) and the worker must apply for an ‘accession worker card’. Low-skilled workers are restricted to existing quota schemes in the agricultural and food processing sectors. Skilled workers can work if they qualify for a work permit, or under the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme.

Following a request from the Spanish authorities, the European Commission has approved Spain’s request to restrict its labour market to Romanian workers until 31 December 2013 due to serious disturbances on its labour market.   

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