Belgium urged to welcome new EU workers

3rd April 2006, Comments 0 comments

3 April 2006, BRUSSELS — EU Employment Commissioner Vladimir Spidla has urged Belgium to open its borders to workers from the new EU member states.

3 April 2006

BRUSSELS — EU Employment Commissioner Vladimir Spidla has urged Belgium to open its borders to workers from the new EU member states.

Spidla said there is no reason for the borders to remain closed, discrediting Belgium's reasoning to maintain the temporary restrictions for a maximum of three more years. "They are false arguments," he said.

Despite admitting he has to respect the decisions of member states, Spidla also said he believes the borders should be opened as soon as possible.

The Belgian federal government decided at the end of February to maintain restrictions on EU member states, in contrast to a Dutch government decision on last week to throw its borders open.

Spidla told Flemish newspaper 'De Morgen' on Monday that keeping the Belgium borders shut will lead to social distrust, not the other way round.

Belgian opted to keep the borders closed due to the poor workplace conditions currently imposed on illegal East European workers in Belgium.

The government opted first to improve registration systems and inspections before opening the borders completely.

But Spidla was quick to reject that reasoning: "People talk about social dumping, fake self-employers and 'black work', but these issues are in no way connected with the free movement of workers".

He added that such scenarios will always exist, whether a Polish national can work legally in Belgium or not.

"Fraudulent companies try to benefit by evading the social legislation. The victims are often people who are very vulnerable. It is a modern form of slavery," Spidla said.

He said the EU should work on a new inspection system, co-operation between European inspection services and sharpening legislation. However, Spidla also said this should not be used as reason to hold East European workers away from an open labour market.

Spidla said Belgium would benefit economically by opening its borders, stressing that unemployment would fall due to the creation of more jobs. He also downplayed fears East Europeans would 'steal' domestic jobs.

[Copyright Expatica News 2006]

Subject: Belgian news

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