Spain ends restrictions on Bulgarians and Romanians
Bulgarian and Romanian nationals will no longer have to apply for a work permit when working in Spain as of 1 January 2009.MADRID – Bulgarian and Romanian nationals now have the right to live and work freely in Spain after rules requiring them to apply for a work permit expired Thursday.
Spain imposed a two-year transition period on workers from the new European Union member states, which became the 26th and 27th countries to join the bloc on 1 January 2007.
The rules meant that Bulgarian and Romanian nationals had to be granted a work permit before they were legally allowed to work in Spain.
Normally, EU citizens automatically have the right to work in any other member state. However, fears over a rise in unemployment saw a number of EU countries impose tougher conditions on workers from the two countries.
Spain took the decision at the end of December not to extend its own restrictions as it said Bulgaria and Romania's growing economies were encouraging would-be immigrants to stay in their home countries, rather than seek work abroad.
The Madrid-based National Statistics Institute (INE) estimates around 728,000 Romanians and 153,000 Bulgarians were living and working in Spain at the start of 2008.
Immigration in Spain has risen sharply since the mid-1990s, in tandem with the country's strong economic growth. Immigrants count for almost five million people out of a total population of 46 million.
But since the start of 2008, Spain's economy has been struggling and unemployment has increased as a result with 11.3 percent of the population out of work, according to the INE.
Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapetero's government has said it will review its decision on Bulgarian and Romanian workers in six months’ time after assessing its impact on the Spanish labour market.
[AFP / Expatica]