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Belgium plans to open labour markets
Feb '08
The Belgian interior ministry is preparing to lift restrictions on workers from member states which joined the EU from 2004 onwards.

Currently, "new" EU citizens wanting to work in Belgium need a work permit, accompanied by lengthy administrative procedures, which are only lighter for a limited number of jobs – such as for architects, computer specialists, translators, engineers or nurses.

However, the plans put forward by Belgian interior minister Patrick Dewael – and seen by the Bulgarian National Television (BNT) – foresee that workers coming from the Central and Eastern European countries that joined the EU four years ago will be allowed to work freely in Belgium as from 1 May, while Bulgarians and Romanians will be free to do so from 1 January next year.

When the 12 new countries joined the EU, other member states had the possibility of restricting access to their labour markets – rather than implementing the European Community's rules on free movement of workers – for a set period.

These restrictions can be left in place for up to seven years after which all member states must fully open their labour markets to the newcomers.

For Bulgarians and Romanians – EU citizens since 1 January 2007 - most of the EU states have imposed total or partial restrictions, fearing an influx of immigrants.

Only ten member states – Cyprus, the Czech Republic Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and Sweden – have lifted all limitations.

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