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Ireland – Government drops work restriction on Bulgarians and Romanians ahead of deadline

23 July 2012

Bulgarian and Romanian citizens have been given the unrestricted right to work in Ireland well ahead of the official deadline in January 2014, the Department of Jobs Enterprise and Innovation (DJEI) said on Friday.

Bulgaria and Romania joined the EU in 2007, but with a seven-year transition period before their nationals were allowed to get full access to the labour markets of other member states. The rules have been gradually relaxed in Ireland with self-employed people and students, for instance, already having had access to the job market.

In recent years an annual average of less than 450 work permit applications from Bulgarian and Romanian nationals have been received, of which an average of 350 were granted annually, the DJEI said.

After the Irish Government reviewed the situation, it has found that the restrictions on Bulgarian and Romanian workers had become “questionable” and decided to bring the transition date forward with immediate effect.

It noted that the likely outlook remains for a flat or even a marginal decline in the number of Bulgarian and Romanian nationals seeking to work in Ireland. The population of these nationals in the country is estimated to have dropped by approximately 3,000 over the last three years. The Government emphasised it was important to sustain and maintain “positive relations with the EU Commission and other member states at a time of political and economic flux in the European Union.”

Currently nine of the 27 EU states still retain labour market restrictions on Bulgarian and Romanian nationals, with Italy and the Czech Republic having recently removed restrictions in January this year. 

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