27th Oct 2016

Greece might open up to new member state workers

Greece is likely to join Spain and Finland in opening labour markets to workers from new member states this May, with France and Belgium also planning to relax restrictions Polish daily Rzeczpospolita reported on Tuesday (24 January).

"The Greeks are signalling this, but knowing their character they will take the decision at the last minute," Slawomir Misiak, the spokesman for the Polish embassy in Athens stated.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Polish workers: popular in Greece (Photo: Polish tourist office)

Greek diplomats in Brussels declined to confirm or deny the report, but told EUobserver that a more likely scenario might be reducing the seven year-long period before restrictions automatically come down in 2011 or allowing selected professions only to come to Greece.

Rzeczpospolita also cites unnamed officials attending a Spanish-Polish meeting in Warsaw on Monday as saying Madrid will probably announce its official decision to open doors when prime minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz visits Spain in April.

The moves would mean Greece, Spain and Finland would join the UK, Ireland and Sweden, who opted not to impose any restrictions since enlargement on 1 May 2004.

Polish diaspora

Most Polish workers currently go to Germany, Polish news agency PAP reported, with 680,000 German work permits granted to Poles in 2004 and the first half of 2005.

About 170,000 Polish people are legally working in the UK, 70,000 in Ireland and 70,000 in the Netherlands, 35,000 in Norway, 5,000 in Iceland and just a few thousand in Sweden.

A recent poll in Ireland showed that 78 percent of Irish Times readers would like to turn back the clock and bar eastern Europeans.

Poles currently make up the largest expat group in Ireland, accounting for 3 percent of the population.

What about the rest?

Meanwhile, the French and Belgian ambassadors to Warsaw told Rzeczpospolita that their countries will probably lift restrictions fully in May 2009, but begin a gradual rollback this May.

French envoy Pierre Mena said new member state workers from the restaurant, hotel, plumbing and construction sectors might gain access to five regions in southern France this year.

And Belgium's Bruno Neve de Mevergnies indicated Brussels might open up to workers in the construction, steel and scientific research fields.

Such a move would mirror the Netherlands' approach, which allowed Polish construction workers in last December.

Germany and Austria have said they will keep the barriers up for now, while Portugal, Denmark and Italy seem likely to go down the same path.

Rzeczpospolita also says non-EU member Norway might open its doors to new member states in May this year.


Serbia and the convenient spy

The manufactured cold war between Croatia and Serbia has been a convenient distraction from some of Serbia's domestic problems.


EU's Kosovo meddling risks Balkans chaos

The EU and the US are is unfairly pressuring Kosovo to ratify a border deal with Montenegro against the will of the opposition. It could bring trouble to the Western Balkans region.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ANCI LazioAnci Lazio Definetely has a lot to Celebrate This Year
  2. EU-China ForumDebating the Future of the EU-China Relations on 28 November in Prague
  3. COMECEMigrants: From Fear to Compassion
  4. Birdlife EuropeBusiness as Usual - Juncker Snubs Environment and Protects Broken CAP
  5. EFADraft Bill for a 2nd Scottish Independence Referendum
  6. UNICEFCalls on European Council to Address Plight of Refugee and Migrant Children
  7. ECTAJoin us on 9-10 November in Brussels and Discover the new EU Digital Landscape
  8. Access NowCan you Hear me now? Verizon’s Opportunity to Stand for Global Users
  9. Belgrade Security ForumMeaningful Dialogue Missing Not Only in the Balkans, but Throughout Europe
  10. EuropecheEU Fishing Sector Celebrates Sustainably Sourced Seafood in EU Parliament
  11. World VisionWomen and Girls Urge EU Leadership to Help end Gender-based Violence
  12. Belgrade Security ForumGet the Latest News and Updates on the Belgrade Security Forum @BelSecForum

Latest News

  1. EU case against Google is bad for developers
  2. Privacy activists mount court challenge to EU-US data pact
  3. Thousands of Nato soldiers go to Baltic states, Romania
  4. Canada's PM cancels EU summit amid Ceta woes
  5. Commission revives corporate taxation plan
  6. Iceland's not-so-quiet revolution
  7. EU’s gender equality progress under threat of conservatism
  8. EU waits for Gazprom settlement proposal