Netherlands to open borders for 'new EU' workers
31 March 2006, AMSTERDAM — Expats form the eight new EU states in Central and Eastern European countries will be able to work in the Netherlands without a work permit from next year.
31 March 2006
AMSTERDAM — Expats form the eight new EU states in Central and Eastern European countries will be able to work in the Netherlands without a work permit from next year.
The Dutch government announced on Friday there will be free movement of labour to the Netherlands from Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia, The Czech Republic, Hungary and the three Baltic states from 1 January 2007.
This means Dutch employers will no longer have to obtain a work permit from the Dutch Centre for Work and Income (CWI) to hire a person from one of these states. The CWI issues a permit once it is satisfied that there no one from the Netherlands or the older EU states to fill the position.
Malta and Cyprus, who also joined the EU in the 'big bang' expansion of 2004, were excluded from the work permit requirement.
Junior Social Affairs minister Henk van Hoof has been pushing the centre-right coalition in The Hague for some time for the Netherlands to lift the restrictions on the eight states by 1 May this year. Several Christian Democrat ministers did not agree to fully opening the borders this year for fear Dutch employees would lose out to cheap labour from the east.
To meet their objections, Van Hoof agreed measures to tackle unfair competition. These include Labour Inspectorate fines for firms employing workers from the eight newer EU states for less than the legal minimum wage.
The Netherlands was one of several EU countries to impose restrictions on labour from the new EU states in 2004.
Belgium has already taken steps to ease the restrictions but Germany confirmed earlier this month the restrictions there will stay in place to 2009. Under the agreement reached during the expansion negotiations, the older EU states must fully open their borders to workers from the newer states by 1 May 2009.
Dutch Economic Affairs Laurens Jan Brinkhorst said Friday's decision was an important political signal. "The Netherlands is not locking itself up, but rather it is looking to the future," he said.
Agreeing, Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said he was not worried the arrival of workers from Poland and the other Eastern European states would displacement in the Dutch labour market. He said employment was increasing in the Netherlands and this was giving rise to a lack of available personnel.
[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2006]
Subject: Dutch news