Which professions benefit from opening of Dutch labour market?

11th May 2004, Comments 0 comments

Medical technician, butcher, sailor and long distance lorry driver - our resident immigration expert takes a closer look at the occupations opened up to job seekers from the Central and Eastern European countries that joined the EU on 1 May.


Your information is more or less correct. On 16 April 2004, the Dutch Central Employment Office (CWI) advised the Dutch government to 'open' the Dutch labor market on 1 May, 2004 to nationals from Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Hungary, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, and Slovakia with regard to the following occupations:

• international lorry drivers (international transport);
• sailors and steersmen (inland navigation);
• radiotherapeutic laboratory workers, radiodiagnostic laboratory workers and operating room assistants (health care sector);
• butchers and boners (slaughter houses and meat processing industry).

The CWI assessed that vis-a-vis these occupations there is a definite shortage of Dutch/current EU employees on the Dutch labour market. Therefore the Dutch economy can use these kinds of professionals from Central and Eastern European countries. The Dutch government decided to follow the advice of the CWI, effective on 1 May 2004.

Note that the CWI will check the aforementioned shortage every three months. If the shortage is no longer tangible, the list of occupations will be adjusted. What is the result of this decision for a regular Dutch hospital?

If and when a Dutch hospital (the prospective employer) applies for a work permit on behalf of an operating room assistant from Poland, the work permit can be obtained quite easily because the CWI will waive the strict recruitment efforts and registration requirements.

The CWI will only check if employment of the Polish operating room assistant is in line with current Dutch labour conditions and circumstances. In other words, this decision will simplify the work permit application procedure enormously and will free the Dutch hospital from a lot of paperwork, costs and hassle.
Nationals from Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Hungary, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, and Slovakia seeking employment in other occupations and their prospective Dutch employers cannot benefit from this (temporary) arrangement. In their situation the regular regime regarding Dutch work permit issuance applies. (Maltese and Greek Cypriot workers do not require a work permit to take up employment in the Netherlands.)

Until 1 May 2006, the regular work permit rules and regulations will be enforced with regard to occupations and sectors within the Dutch economy where ousting (verdringing) is imminent.

This means that from 1 May 2004 to 1 May 2006, prospective Dutch employers of the new EU member nationals are required to arrange for regular work permits. In order to become eligible for such a work permit, the respective employer will have to (amongst other things) register the job opening with the competent authorities, place advertisements in Dutch/EU newspapers and/or specialised magazines, and/or enlist the services of head hunters or recruitment agencies.

The prospective employer will have to do his/her utmost to find a suitable Dutch/current EU candidate for the position. If and when such a candidate can not be located, and the CWI is satisfied with the prospective employers' recruitment efforts, a Dutch work permit may be issued.

This month the EU has welcomed ten new member states into its realm. In future Turkey, Romania, Albania and even the Ukraine may follow. This will lead to interesting and historic developments of which the outcome is uncertain (to say the least). As the 'old European Union' fades into the annals of history, here is some food for thought:

• According to a recent survey by the Dutch news program Twee Vandaag 74 percent of the respondents think it is likely that that nationals from the new EU member states will glut the labour market, and 57 percent of the respondents are worried about this.
• Sweden, Greece and Ireland are the only current EU member states opening up their labour markets, and effectively respecting the free movement of people principle. 
• Poland and Hungary have decided to restrict/close their labour markets to nationals of most of the current EU member states, as a result of the fact that most current EU member states will not allow Polish or Hungarian nationals to work in their countries without any restrictions.

11 May 2004

This column is for informative purposes only, is general in nature, and is not intended to be a substitute for competent legal and professional advice. Dutch and European rules and regulations regarding foreigners, policy, procedures, work permits, visas, and residence permits are continuously subject to change.

Patrick R. Rovers, 
lawyer with Van Velzen CS

Write to Patrick Rovers and Hans van Velzen

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