Controls on Romanians, Bulgarians lifted in EU

Bucharest, Jan 1 (IANS) Citizens of Romania and Bulgaria can now work without restrictions across the European Union (EU) as transitional controls imposed on them were lifted Wednesday after Greece took over the six-month rotating presidency of the 28-member bloc, BBC reported.

The controls imposed by some member states restricted nationals of the two countries from claiming benefits and rights to work when they joined the EU in 2007.
Some in wealthier western EU nations fear mass migration from the two countries.
However, authorities in Bucharest and Bulgaria’s capital Sofia say there will not be an exodus, and that many of those who wanted to leave the country to seek work had already done so.
“There isn’t going to be an invasion of Romanians,” said Brandusa Predescu, a spokesperson for the Romanian foreign ministry.
Romanians and Bulgarians were able to travel to other EU states without a visa after the two countries joined the bloc.
However, nine of the 26 other member states imposed temporary restrictions on the kind of jobs they could take.
France, the Netherlands, and Belgium required that they obtain work permits.
In Britain, prospective employers had to apply for work permits and Bulgarians and Romanians migrants for an “accession worker card”. Low-skilled workers were restricted to existing quota schemes in the agricultural and food processing sectors.
The British government is tightening the benefit rules to ensure that migrants cannot claim out-of-work benefits for three months after arriving and will only qualify for support after six months if they have a genuine chance of employment.