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SPAIN – Transitional Measures Reinstated For Romanian Nationals

The European Commission has approved Spain’s request to temporarily reinstate transitional restrictive conditions for Romanian nationals entering Spain for employment purposes. The Spanish Ministerial Agreement was published on 22 July 2011 by the Ministry of Work and Immigration and on 11 August 2011, the European Commission published a press release confirming that approval has been granted.

Why Reinstate Restrictions?

In 2007, when Romania and Bulgaria joined the European Union (EU), other EU member states were given the right to restrict access to their labour markets for up to seven years, i.e. until 31 December 2013 at the latest.

Most of the newer EU member states (those who joined in 2004) granted full access to their labour markets, but the older EU members were more reluctant. More details are available here.

Spain, however, which was experiencing a boom in property development at the time, and needed more workers, granted full access to its labour market for both Bulgarians and Romanians from 1 January 2009.

Since that time, the global recession hit and Spain’s property bubble burst with dramatic consequences – unemployment in Spain now stands at over 21% (compared with 9% in the U.S. and around 10% for the EU as a whole), and the Spanish government is trying to preserve as many jobs as it can for its resident workers. There are already around 850,000 Romanian workers in Spain, of whom 30% are currently unemployed.

Who Is Affected?

Any new Romanian nationals seeking to enter Spain as employees from 22 July 2011 must apply for work permission under the transitional measures that were in place between 1 January 2007, when Romania and Bulgaria joined the EU, and 1 January 2009.

The following are unaffected by the reinstatement of restrictions:

  • Romanian nationals already living and working in Spain with valid EU residence permits
  • Romanian nationals entering Spain as students, or as self-employed workers
  • Bulgarian nationals

What Are Transitional Measures?

The transitional measures mean that Romanian nationals require work permits, issued on the basis of an employment contract to Spain, to work as employees on Spanish territory. Work permits are administered in the same way as work permits for non-EU nationals.

However, Romanian nationals still have the right to enter Spain, and therefore the requirement to obtain long stay Schengen visas (Type D visas) will not apply to them.

What Happens Next?

Restrictions on access to labour markets for Romanians must be ended in all EU member states by 31 December 2013 at the latest, but since Spain had already opened its labour market, going back on this step should be seen as a temporary measure only.

The Spanish government has stated explicitly that the measure is temporary and that a dialogue with the Romanian government is ongoing.

In addition, the European Commission reserves the right to modify or revoke the decision at any time. The Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, László Andor, commented that: "The Spanish request is supported by factual evidence and the Accession Treaty does allow the re-imposition of temporary restrictive measures in such cases. By implementing these changes, Spain would still remain more open to workers from new Member States than some other Member States. However, we hope this move will be limited in time as much as possible and an overall positive attitude towards free movement in Europe will continue to prevail."

Action Items

  • Note that transferring any Romanian national employees into Spain will now trigger the need for a work permit application.

This news alert was prepared using information provided by the European Commission and confirmed by Raquel Gómez Salas, an independent EU immigration specialist.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this immigration alert has been abridged from laws, court decisions, and administrative rulings and should not be construed or relied upon as legal advice. If you have specific questions regarding the applicability of this information, please contact Peregrine © 2017 Peregrine Immigration Management Ltd.