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Spain Clamps down on Bulgarian, Romanian Migrants

Date: 01.11.2006

The Spanish government approved measures to curb immigration from Romania and Bulgaria after the two countries join the European Union in January.

Spain will introduce a moratorium for Bulgarian and Romanian migrants to apply during a transitional period of two years, Spain's Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos announced.

Moratinos argued that the same measure was introduced upon the accession of the ten latest members of the European Union in 2004. He stressed that "thousands of workers from Bulgaria and Romania are already legally employed in the country."

During the time of the moratorium Bulgarians and Romanians would be able to live in Spain and set up their own businesses but would only be able to enter the labour market if they were contracted for work in Spain while actually in Bulgaria or Romania.

Unions argue that without this transition period, Spain's labour market will be distorted by such a large pool of new workers.

Earlier in the week officials in Sofia voiced hopes that Spain, together with Greece and Italy, will allow unfettered work rights to Bulgarians and Romanians, being their main destinations historically-speaking.

Greece and Italy are still hesitating whether to let Bulgarians and Romanians in from January or follow the UK and Ireland in curbing immigration from the EU's two newest member states.

Finland, Slovakia, Poland, Estonia and Latvia have so far declared readiness to apply the principle of free movement of workers to the jobseekers from Bulgaria and Romania.

In a highly controversial move, the British and Irish governments approved last week measures to curb immigration from Romania and Bulgaria after the two countries join the European Union in January.

The same example will be followed by Germany, Austria, the Netherlands and Denmark.

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