Czech EU presidency slams German job market restrictions

Czech EU presidency slams German job market restrictions
Germany already uses Eastern Europeans to harvest its asparagus. Photo: DPA
The Czech Republic – which currently holds the rotating EU presidency – on Thursday slammed Germany and Austria for keeping labour restrictions on citizens from Eastern Europe in place until 2011.

Officials in Prague said Berlin and Vienna were the only remaining Western European holdouts trying to seal off their job markets to workers from the newest members of the European Union.

The Czech presidency said in a statement that “all available information clearly confirms that citizens of the Czech Republic and other new member states in no way pose any threat to the German and Austrian labour markets.”

The German and Austrian governments recently informed the European Commission that they wish to continue to limit the access of citizens from the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia until the latest possible date in 2011.

Prague said Eastern European workers “not put downward pressure on wages or threaten the social cohesion” of either Germany or Austria.

“Free movement of workers contributes to economic growth and competitiveness of the European Union,” the EU presidency said.

Germany and Austria are the only two EU members to impose such employment restrictions following decisions by Belgium and Denmark to open up their labour markets starting May 1, 2009.

Jobs in Germany

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