Countdown to Europe The movement of labour
When the Czech Republic joins the European Union, its citizens will not only benefit economically but they will also be able to enjoy the advantages of travelling, studying and working in the union without restriction. Or at least that was the argument used by the Czech government to convince its citizens to vote in favour of EU membership, and it worked. With an unemployment rate of ten percent, the country's younger generation hopes to have the opportunity to work freely elsewhere, while learning a new language and gaining international experience in the process. After a long period of preparation and accession talks, the Czech Republic is finally to become a fully-fledged member of the EU on May 1st this year. In this week's Countdown to Europe, we ask Tomas Vyprachticky from the Czech Foreign Ministry's EU information centre Euroskop, how free the movement of labour will really be:
"Even at the beginning of the accession negotiations, it was pretty clear that some of the current EU member states, especially Austria and Germany will not open their labour markets to the new members. But on the other hand, there were some countries that promised new members that they would open their labour markets to them and give up the possibility to apply for a transition period for the free movement of labour. These included the United Kingdom, Ireland, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Italy. But these promises were made to be broken and with the exception of the UK and Ireland, all these countries withdrew their promises. So if any citizen of the Czech Republic intends to work in the EU he will need a work permit except in the UK and Ireland."
Will there be no restrictions at all there?
"No restrictions for the genuine workers. Neither Great Britain nor Ireland is afraid of the people from the new member states who really want to work. The only people they are afraid of are benefit abusers. So, if someone wants to work in the UK, he will arrive and the only thing he will have to do is to fill out a form and send it to the Immigration and Nationality Directorate at the British Home Office. After this registration, he has the right to work and reside in the UK. As long as he works for twelve months at one employer, he will have the right to get the residence permit and then access to social benefits and things like that. As far as Ireland is concerned, we still do not have the exact information from them."
"We do not know yet. According to the Accession Treaty has the right to apply for a reciprocal issue if some of the current member states should have the transitional period. So, theoretically it is possible that citizens of all the current member states except those of Britain and Ireland will need a work permit. This is not probable but we still do not have a definite statement from the Czech government except from the Labour and Social Affairs Minister who said that the Czech Republic would not give up its right to apply for a transitional period in advance."
For general information on the rules and regulations on employment and other areas in the European Union, visit the website http://citizens.eu.int