• Bucharest: Romanians came top, amid British rhetoric on 'welfare tourism' (Photo: Nico Trinkhaus)

Romanians and Greeks work the hardest in Europe

26.06.14 @ 09:22

  1. By Andrew Rettman
  2. Andrew email

BRUSSELS - A new study has defied stereotypes by showing that Romanian and Greek people are among the hardest working in Europe.

The survey, by Coe-Rexecode, a Paris-based research institute, looked at “real” working hours in each EU state in the past four years - the amount of time spent actually at work, as opposed to nominal hours, which include absences due to sick leave, childcare, holidays, strikes, or commuting time.

It found that in 2013, Romanian full-time employees worked 2,099 hours - the highest figure in Europe.

Greeks came second, followed by Hungarians, Bulgarians and Croatians, Poles, Latvians, Slovaks, Estonians, and Cypriots.

At the other end, Finnish (1,648) and French (1,661) people worked the least, followed by Swedes, Danes, and Belgians. Italian, Spanish, and Dutch people scored low. British and German workers were middle of the road.

The trend between 2010 and 2013 showed falls in Britain, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, and Sweden.

But hours went up in Spain, the Netherlands, and Portugal.

The numbers go against a stereotype which emerged in the EU financial crisis - of virtuous northern states versus lazy southern countries who want bailouts.

With Romania and Bulgaria at the top end, they also challenge British anti-immigrant rhetoric on "welfare tourism" linked to the lifting of labour restrictions on the two countries in January.

Drilling into France, Coe-Rexecode noted that French people in the industrial and construction sectors worked the least, while people in the agricultural sector worked the most.

Compared to Germany, the EU’s economic success story of recent years, French agricultural and construction workers put in far fewer hours.