The FINANCIAL — The European Commission has approved a request from the Spanish authorities made on 13 December 2012 to extend the temporary restriction on access for Romanian workers to the Spanish labour market until 31 December 2013 due to serious disturbances on its labour market.
As ERUROPA said, these restrictions cannot be continued after the end of 2013 as temporary restrictions on the free movement of Romanian and Bulgarian workers must be lifted in all Member States as from 1 January 2014.
The Commission's decision is based on a specific safeguard clause in the 2005 Treaty on the accession of Bulgaria and Romania. This clause allows Member States that have lifted restrictions on workers from Bulgaria and Romania to subsequently re-impose restrictions if there are serious disturbances on their labour market, subject to the Commission's agreement.
Spain opened its labour market to Romanian and Bulgarian workers in 2009, but in August 2011 the Commission authorised Spain to temporarily restrict the free movement of Romanian workers until 31 December 2012.
"Since the restrictions on labour market access by Romanian workers were re-introduced in mid-2011, the economic and labour market situation in Spain has further worsened. I strongly believe that free movement of workers should be promoted and that restrictions on it are not the answer to high unemployment. However, Spain's labour market has been very badly hit by the crisis and the Commission has therefore agreed to this temporary measure," said László Andor, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion. "We will continue to monitor closely the Spanish labour market, and will consider modifying or revoking the Decision at any time if developments on the Spanish labour market allow for it. At the same time Romania also needs to take appropriate steps to boost job creation. In order to improve the employment situation, I encourage both countries to implement the actions foreseen in the Employment and Youth packages presented by the Commission this year."
Spain has a record level of both unemployment at 26.2%, compared to 22.7% one year before, and youth unemployment at 55.9% (figures from October 2012). Figures for the EU average are respectively 10.7% and 23.4%. As all regions of Spain are affected by high levels of unemployment, the labour market disturbance is not limited to a particular region.
The number of Romanian nationals residing in Spain is currently 913,000 (September 2012) which represents 17% of the foreign population in Spain, and is a year-on-year increase of 12,000. According to the EU Labour Force survey, Romanian nationals living in Spain are strongly affected by unemployment, with 36.4% of the (economically active) Romanians in Spain unemployed – compared to 23.3% of Spanish nationals. The employment rate among working-age (15-64) Romanian citizens is only 50.8%.
The Commission will monitor the situation through updates provided by Spain every three months on the labour market situation. The Commission reserves the right to repeal its decision to allow a restriction to the access of the labour market at any time based on developments on the Spanish labour market.
The Commission will now notify its decision to the EU's Council of Ministers. Any Member State may request the Council to amend or annul the Commission's decision within two working weeks.