A number of key European countries have opted to keep their doors closed to workers from the EU accession states, it was revealed yesterday.
France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands and Austria are among those not applying the EU’s open-border policy to jobseekers from the poorest countries to join two years ago yesterday (1 May).
Germany and Austria in particular insist they would face an unsustainable influx of migrant workers from Poland, Hungary and elsewhere if they fully applied the EU’s laws on the free movement of workers.
Only the UK, Ireland and Sweden opened up their employment markets from 1 May 2004, when 10 new member states joined.
The other dozen ‘old’ member states took the option of a temporary two-year transition period to avoid sharp economic shocks from immediate exposure to a potential flood of cheap labour.
Only four more countries – Greece, Portugal, Spain and Finland – have chosen to open their borders.
The other eight, including the largest economies and the wealthiest countries, are taking up the option of maintaining full or partial restrictions until 2009, or until at least next year in the case of The Netherlands.
Since the move to allow new EU workers into the UK, British attitudes to migrant workers have become less partisan.