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The Commission accepts that Spain can temporarily restrict the free movement of Romanian workers

11/08/2011 The Commission accepts that Spain can temporarily restrict the free movement of Romanian workers

Following a request from the Spanish authorities on 28th July 2011, the European Commission has approved Spain's request to restrict its labour market to Romanian workers until 31 December 2012 due to serious disturbances on its labour market.

These restrictions will apply to activities in all sectors and regions. However it shall not affect Romanian nationals who are already active on the Spanish labour market.

These temporary restrictions are authorised by the European Commission in view of the current economic situation in Spain. The unprecedented fall in GDP ( 3.9% between 2008 and 2010) has resulted in the highest unemployment rate in the EU, over 20% since May 2010.

Moreover, the analysis by the Commission has established that Romanian nationals living in Spain are strongly affected by unemployment, as 30% of them are unemployed. 191 400 Romanian citizens working in Spain were unemployed in the first quarter of 2011, i.e. the second highest number after Spanish nationals. This number was only 80 100 three years earlier. In the same period, the number of employed Romanians fell by nearly 24 %.

Despite a fall in the number of Romanian national coming to work in Spain in recent years, probably due to the economic recession, the inflow remains at high levels. The number of Romanian nationals usually resident in Spain has increased from 388 000 on 1 January 2006 to 823 000 on 1 January 2010.

As Spain had already opened its labour market to all EU-citizens, any restriction of the free movement of workers constitutes a derogation and can only be temporary. European Commission will monitor closely the situation in Spain and will have the possibility of modifying or revoking the Decision at any time it sees fit.

In general, free movement of workers has had a positive economic impact at the European scale and has produced economic growth in the receiving countries. Recent estimates suggest that the long-term impact of the population flows between 2004 and 2009 on the GDP of the EU-15 was an extra 0.9%.

Next steps

The European Commission will now inform the Council of its decision and any Member State may request the Council to amend or annul the Commission's decision on the suspension of EU law within two working weeks.