Berlin to keep labour market shut to eastern Europeans

Germany will delay opening the country's borders to cheap labour from eastern Europe until 2011, the newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported on Friday.

Berlin to keep labour market shut to eastern Europeans
A Polish man works near Frankfurt in 2005. Photo: DPA

The executive committee of the conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) approved pushing the deadline to open Germany’s borders back two years, from 2009, committee member Karl-Josef Laumann told the Frankfurter Allgemeine during a conference for companies that hire part-time workers in Cologne.

“The extension has been decided,” Laumann said.

In 2005 Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, persuaded Brussels to allow it to impose restrictions until 2009 because of fears that a flood of cheap labour would put Germans out of work.

The newspaper reported that both the CDU and their junior partner in the German parliament’s ruling coalition, the center-left Social Democrats (SPD), were in favour of the extension. German Labour Minister Olaf Scholz, of the SPD, expressed support two months ago, while German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she could not imagine opening the borders prior to 2011.

Discussion of opening German borders to workers from Poland and the nine other eastern European countries that joined the European Union in 2004 was originally planned for the fall. Britain, Ireland and Sweden are the only pre-2004 EU members who have already thrown open their borders to workers from eastern Europe.

Laumann said Germany would need to reopen its unresolved debate on a minimum wage if it allows eastern European labour.

With AFP