More rules on new EU workers
13 February 2004
AMSTERDAM — The Cabinet has announced that employers will only be able to recruit workers from the 10 states joining the EU this year if no Dutch person can be found for the position. But the restrictions will vary from sector to sector.
This reverses the stance that the coalition of Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende adopted earlier this year towards the countries entering the EU.
Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic along with Cyprus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta and Slovenia will be officially admitted to membership of the EU on 1 May this year.
In January, Balkenende’s ministers decided that employers hiring workers from the new member states would no longer have to obtain a work permit.
Businesses hiring people from outside the EU have to show that there is no Dutch person available and capable to do the work in order to obtain a work permit for the new worker.
Following pressure from MPs, the Cabinet reversed itself on Friday and decided that employers may only take on workers from the 10 states if they can show they are having great difficulty finding a Dutch person.
“It will however be easier for employers in sectors where there is a great shortage of Dutch employees to obtain a work permit for an employee from one of the new member states,” the government said Friday.
This will reduce the bureaucracy of applying to hire foreign workers and give people from the new member states an advantage over non-EU nationals, the government claimed.
Social Affairs State Secretary Mark Rutte asked his colleagues to approve the new approach after MPs called on the government to review January’s position.
The government said that applications to hire people from the new EU member states would be processed within a maximum of two weeks in sectors and professions where there was a shortage of workers.
Currently, the central organisation for work and income CWI looks at each application individually and spends five weeks looking for a qualified candidate from the Netherlands or the other 15 member states. This will no longer happen from 1 May 2004 to 1 May 2006.
The CWI will decide which sectors of the economy have labour shortages and will adapt its policies as shortages emerge or disappear.
The government said the policy will be reviewed in May 2005.
In January, the government decided that it would consider tightening its entry policies if more than 22,000 workers per year arrived from the new member states. On Friday, Rutte said he still thought fewer than 22,000 people would move to the Netherlands every year as a result of EU expansion.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news + EU enlargement