Dutch borders open

2nd May 2007, Comments 0 comments

Free movement of workers from Poland, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Latvia, Slovenia, Estonia and Hungary became a reality on 27 April 2007 – with a few good measures for mutual benefit thrown in.

This means that now all citizens of these eight states of Central and Eastern Europe, which joined the EU on 1 May 2004 will enjoy the general (unrestricted) right to free movement of workers.

After much speculation, the Dutch Parliament agreed to abolish the work permit requirement on Wednesday 25 April 2007 and the resolution was published on 27 April 2007. The work permit requirement remains applicable for citizens from Bulgaria and Romania.

Taking steps to prevent unfair competition, the Minister of Social Affairs and Employment has simultaneously introduced measures to make sure that employees of the eight states receive the same wage for the same work as other employees and would receive appropriate accommodation – for instance not overcrowded.

The new measures include:

  • Employers who pay a salary less than the minimum wage may be subject to fines of up to EUR 6700;
  • The labour inspection and the tax authorities will work closely together to fight the minimum wage evasion;
  • Agreements will be made between the tax authorities and local authorities to make it possible for local authorities to get address details for the maintenance of their accommodation policy.


The build up

Ten new member states (Poland, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Latvia, Slovenia, Estonia, Hungary, Malta and Cyprus) joined the EU on 1 May 2004.

Following accession, all citizens of the new EU member states have enjoyed a general right to free movement between countries within Europe.

However, an optional restriction had been agreed on the right to obtain employment. This restriction did not apply to individuals from Cyprus and Malta. The Netherlands decided to make use of this restriction on employment for an initial period of two years.

In April 2006, the Dutch government informed the European Commission that it wanted to extend the restriction for a second transitional period. 

As the Dutch government intended to open the borders in stages during this second transitional period, it accordingly simplified and accelerated the procedure for issuing work permits for employees in 39 industries as of 17 September 2006 and 13 December 2006.

On 6 April 2007, the Minister of Social Affairs and Employment proposed to Parliament that, as of 1 May 2007, they abolish the work permit requirement for employees of the eight states of Central and Eastern Europe which joined the EU on 1 May 2004. In tandem, the Minister of Social Affairs and Employment presented the new measures to protect workers' rights.

2 May 2007

Source: Netherlands-based Ernst & Young Human Capital professionals:
Edith de Bourgraaf  Tel:
+31 10 406 85 42   E-mail: edith.de.bourgraaf@nl.ey.com
Thijs Esser    Tel: +31 70 324 67 03   E-mail: thijs.esser@nl.ey.com
Anne Kwint-Bijleveld  Tel: +31 20 546 62 54   E-mail: anne.bijleveld@nl.ey.com

Subject: Working in the Netherlands, Dutch work permits

[Copyright Expatica 2007]

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