The European Commission adopted a defensive stance yesterday (26 July), saying that Spain could introduce restrictive measures against Romanian workers “under exceptional circumstances”. Last Friday, the EU executive said Spain had no legal right to impose such a ban. EurActiv Spain contributed to this article.
Asked by EurActiv to comment on controversial Spanish plans to ban Romanian workers on the Spanish job market from August, a Commission spokesperson retracted from previous statements according to which Madrid could not legally impose such limitations.
Chantal Hugues, spokesperson for Internal Market Commissioner Michel Barnier, said that Spain could impose such limitations under exceptional circumstances. She said the EU executive had received a letter from the Spanish authorities outlining their concerns, which it was studying.
In fact, Spain was among the first countries to fully open its job market to the EU’s latest newcomers, Romania and Bulgaria.
However, as a consequence of the crisis, Spain now has the highest unemployment rate in Europe (over 20%) and is considering imposing restrictions on its job market. As Romanian workers in Spain are more numerous, the planned restrictions do not concern Bulgaria.
According to EurActiv Spain, Madrid has now informed the Commission on statistics regarding Romanian workers on its soil and hopes that restrictions could be impose as early as from August.
As the measure by Madrid is unprecedented, the EU executive has recognised that it finds itself in new territory. According to some interpretations, Madrid doesn’t even need to ask the green light of the Commission.
Reportedly, the restrictions to be imposed by Madrid would concern only new arrivals of workers. Also, the tourist traffic would not be affected, as the Romanians are free to visit any EU country for a stay of up to three months.
According to some reports, the measures to be put in place by Madrid could inspire other EU countries to impose limitations to their job market to citizens from Bulgaria and Romania. The Netherlands already announced that it would grant Bulgarians and Romanians as well as foreigners from outside the EU a work permit in the Netherlands under “exceptional cases”.