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Italy, Spain, Greece Hesitant on Romania, Bulgaria Workers

Date: 28.10.2006

Italy is hesitating whether to let in Romanian and Bulgarian workers from January or follow the UK and Ireland in curbing immigration from the EU's two newest member states, the EUobserver reported, citing the prime minister.

"We will examine this issue closely, because the Romanians make up the biggest foreign community in Italy," Italian prime minister Romano Prodi said at a conference on migration.

"I have supported an open door policy but this case is complicated as many European countries have announced that they will not grant free access to Romanian workers. We will try to solve this problem with other EU countries," he added.

The statement denied earlier local reports, according to which Italy will remain resistant to British fears of an influx of Bulgarian and Romania migrants that forced the country to limit their right to work.

EUobserver comments that Rome's decision on the matter could also influence Spain and Greece, the two other main destinations historically-speaking for Romanian and Bulgarian jobseekers.

All three countries have recently joined the liberal camp of countries that apply no labour restrictions to workers from the eight member states in central and eastern Europe that joined the EU in 2004.

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