Spain gets green light for ban on Romanian jobseekers
Published 12/08/2011 | 05:00
Spain has been given the right by the European Union to bar entry to any new Romanian workers as it struggles with the highest unemployment rate in the 27-nation block.
Romanians will now be required to have an approved work contract before settling in Spain, reversing a two-and-a-half year moratorium that previously gave them unrestricted access as fellow members of the EU.
The EU Commission recognised the measure was needed "due to serious disturbances on the labour market in crisis-hit Spain", said a statement released by Brussels yesterday.
The approval, running to the end of next year, is the first time the "safeguard clause" to restrict freedom of movement by EU-member citizens has been invoked.
Spain suffers the EU's highest jobless rate, running at more than 20pc since May last year and as high as 40pc among under-25s.
The number of Romanians in the country has quadrupled in the past five years to more than 800,000, making them Spain's biggest foreign community.
Thirty per cent of Romanians in the country are unemployed.
Initially attracted by opportunities in Spain's booming construction industry and seasonal agricultural work, many are now returning home as the few jobs available are claimed by Spanish workers. Romania has an unemployment rate of 7pc.
The free movement of citizens can only be restricted under certain conditions and Spain was asked by the EU to provide data to justify the implementation of the curb.
Announcing the decision, Laszlo Andor, the European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, said: "The commission understands why, at this particular juncture, because of the dramatic employment situation and the very complex financial environment, the Spanish authorities wish to step back from full, free movement."
"The temporary measure will not affect Romanians who are already part of the labour force," said Jose Blanco, a spokesman for the socialist government.
He added: "It will not affect the free circulation of citizens within the EU, a principle that Spain has always defended."
Romania has two weeks to request an annulment of the EU's decision. (© Daily Telegraph, London)