Vol. 5 Num 923 Sun. December 31, 2006  

France opens economy to EU newcomers

France has decided to open up seven sectors of its economy to workers from Romania and Bulgaria when the two eastern European countries officially join the EU bloc on January 1, the labour ministry announced Friday.

Restrictions will remain in place for the rest of the economy to prevent a feared influx of labour from the relatively poor newcomers to the 25-member European Union.

Sixty-two types of jobs in the seven sectors will be available to immigrants from Romania and Bulgaria in parts of the economy where labour shortages have been identified, the ministry said in a statement.

The seven sectors are construction and public works, the hotel, catering and food industry, farming, mechanical and metalworking industries, processing industries, retail and the sanitation business.

These parts of the French economy were opened for the first time in May this year to the eight eastern European countries which joined the EU in 2004.

The rapid expansion of the EU to incorporate former Communist countries in eastern Europe has led to different responses from existing members.

Some such as Ireland and Finland have opened their labour markets to foreign labour, while others such as France, Germany and Denmark have imposed restrictions with the aim of protecting domestic jobs.