Free movement of labour chapter close

01-11-2001

Last Friday, the Czech Republic closed the chapter on free movement of labour in its accession talks with the EU after lengthy negotiations. The free movement of labour was one of the most controversial chapters in negotiations between the EU and the membership candidate countries. While some of the front-runners, such as Poland and Hungary have concluded the chapter, accepting temporary restrictions for their workers seeking jobs in the current member states, the Czech Republic has fought on and eventually managed to negotiate more favourable conditions for free movement of labour than the other candidate countries.

The Czech Republic agreed on a provision enabling EU countries to flexibly limit the number of Czechs seeking work in the union for an initial period of two years, expandable to up to seven years. At the same time the Czech Republic has managed to safeguarded a possibility to protect its own labour market against an influx of cheap labour from the other member countries.

However, according to Petr Jezek, the head of the EU integration department of the Czech ministry of foreign affairs, the Czech Republic has in effect managed to improve the conditions for the other candidate countries who had accepted stricter regulations: