By Marian Chiriac
The European Commission has today agreed that Spain may temporarily restrict the free movement of Romanians because the country is facing the highest level of unemployment in the EU.
A statement from the Commission this morning revealed that there is a “safeguard clause” within the Act of Accession which members of the EU may invoke in situations where they are undergoing or forsee serious labour market disturbances.
It stated that Spain had invoked the special clause on the grounds of its present economic situation. The country has the highest level of unemployment in the EU at present, with 21 per cent of the working age population unemployed in June, compared to an average 9.4 per cent unemployed in the EU.
Among the youth, the rate of unemployment is even higher with almost 50 per cent of young people out of work against an average of 20 per cent in the rest of the EU. The country has also experienced a slow economic recovery with 0.3 per cent GDP growth in the first quarter of 2011, compared to the previous quarter.
The EC said that Spain would be allowed to introduce the restrictive measures against Romanian workers on the grounds that it is facing high unemployment rates and should protect local workers.
“After analysing the situation, the European Commission authorises Spain to temporarily suspend EU law on free movement of workers”.
News that Spain is restricting its job market is especially worrying for Romanians, as the country is a favourite destination for Romanians looking for work abroad.
About 820,000 Romanians live and work legally in Spain. Many moved there after Romania joined the European Union in 2007, taking modestly paid jobs.
Spain was among the few countries in Western Europe that scrapped all labour restrictions on Romania following its accession to the EU. Restrictions remain in force in 11 European Union states.
The authorisation under which Spain has introduced working restriction is valid until the end of this year.