Spain will continue to employ Romanians: minister

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Spanish companies will continue to employ Romanians despite new labour restrictions aimed at fighting Spanish unemployment, the Romanian labour minister said on Friday.

The EU executive on Thursday gave Spain a green light to tighten restrictions on Romanian workers as it struggles against dire unemployment, the worst across the 27-nation bloc.

"I am sincerely telling you: not a single Romanian will be affected by this measure. The ones who are already in Spain are not concerned and the ones who are still living in Romania do not depend on these restrictions but on the demand of Spanish employers," the minister, Sebastian Lazaroiu, told RFI Romania radio.

"Spanish employers are still looking for Romanian workers to fill in jobs that Spanish citizens do not want, in the construction sector, in agriculture, in cleaning," Lazaroiu added.

Romanians from Romania will now need a work permit to get these jobs in Spain but "the employer is the one who has to obtain the permit and I believe that the Spanish employers constitute a lobby strong enough to get them," Lazaroiu said.

When Romania and Bulgaria entered the European Union in 2007, their treaties of accession stipulated a seven-year transition period during which other members could limit access to their labour markets.

Spain lifted this restriction in January 2009, but warned it could reimpose it at a later date if labour market conditions so required.

Since then, Spain's unemployment rate has soared from 7.95 percent to 21.29 percent in the first quarter of 2011, a record among countries in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation Development.

More than 800,000 Romanians live in Spain, where the community suffers an unemployment rate of 30 percent.

© 2011 AFP

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