On Monday, the Council of Ministers for Employment and Social Affairs decided to extend the restricted free movement of labour for workers of the eight Member States that had joined the EU in May 2004. Hence, persons working under employment contracts from Central and Eastern Europe can still only get a work permit in Austria in exceptional cases.
The reasons stated for this extension were the considerable problems in the national labour market, which do not permit an early opening for the labour force from the new Member States. This regulation applies to the following EU countries: Hungary, Slovakia, Czechia, Poland, Slovakia, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. These restrictions also apply to Bulgaria’s and Rumania’s work force. Due to the fact that both these countries had only joined the European Union in 2007, the regulations concerning the transitional periods still applied and did not require an extension. The old Member States as well as Malta and Cyprus are not subject to any restrictions in the labour market.

Apart from Austria, Germany too has asserted her right to extend the transitional periods. In doing so, both countries have thereby exhausted the maximal possible transitional period in the labour market of seven years.

In the preliminary stages already, AK EUROPA had pointed out the necessity of extending the transitional periods within the scope of an event held in Brussels. This demand was supported by labour market expert Univ. Prof. Gudrun Biffl (formerly Wifo, now Professor at University of Krems). The Austrian Government and Federal Minister Rudolf Hundstorfer also came out in favour of retaining the transitional periods.

Although the European Commission spoke against the Austrian demand, the Council of Ministers has nevertheless achieved to extend the restrictions of free movement of labour in the Austrian and German Labour markets.