ECAS blog

ECAS presented on 15 January the latest of the series of reports on the free movement.

See the report and the official press release.

Well before one can say that mobility becomes a piece of cake for EU-25, there comes 2007 enlargement and things get even worse. While the newcomers of 2004 can celebrate that more and more countries lift the transitional arrangements, Romania and Bulgaria get a bumpy ride. Both countries face serious restrictions on the free movement of their workers – even more countries than in 2004 have imposed transitional measures (i.e. in most cases the need of work permit). The picture is gloomy as Romanians already have had some experience of retention of passports in not so distant past, now it has been complemented by the recent expulsions in Italy.

The reason behind the restrictions was the fear of massive influx of (in 2004) Polish plumbers – curiously, nobody minds the nurses – and in 2007 their Bulgarian and Romanian comrades. The predictions of migration outflows were exaggerated for the 2004 enlargement. For the enlargement of 2007 even the predictions were modest and yet the general public feared the massive arrival of workers from these “newest” member sates. This is probably why on 1 January the British journalists spent the whole day in vain waiting for the Romanian and Bulgarian workers to spill out form the planes. Finally very little Bulgarians or Romanians left (or more precisely they left long time ago regardless of EU accession or transitional periods).

The predictions were wrong yet the transitional measures were imposed and they are set to stay. What are the results apart from making life more difficult for those who undertake the mobility? Well, it seems that they create so-called “second-class” European citizenship. The European citizenship may mean many things to many people but ask “an ordinary man in the street” (confirmed by Eurobarometer) and he will say it means free movement rights. Sadly then this principal message and meaning is not yet granted to the two newest member states.

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