Government decides to maintain restrictions on Bulgarian and Romanian access to the Irish labour market in 2012 and 2013
Decision made in light of the serious disturbance to the Irish labour market
16th December 2011
The Government announced today [Friday] that the current restrictions on access to the Irish labour market by Bulgarian and Romanian nationals are to continue in place until the end of 2013.
The Treaties that govern Bulgarian and Romanian accession to the EU provide for a 7-year transition period before their nationals have full access to the labour markets of Member States. This transition period ends on 1st January 2014.
The Treaties also require that from 1 January 2012, Member States grant full access to their labour markets unless they are confronted with a serious disturbance in their labour market or the threat thereof.
Ireland is one of 10 Member States - Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands and UK - that have maintained restrictions to date on full access to their labour markets. Spain, which had opened its market, re-introduced restrictions during the summer.
So far, the UK, Netherlands, Germany and Austria have announced that they will be retaining restrictions in some form in the period 2012-2014.
A comprehensive analysis of the situation by the State enterprise advisory agency, Forfás, concluded that the Irish labour market was experiencing a serious labour market disturbance such that it could be exacerbated by an immediate opening of the market to full access. Accordingly, the Government has decided to retain the current framework governing labour market access by Bulgarian and Romanian nationals. The Government has notified the EU Commission of its decision.
According to figures published by the Central Statistics Office this week, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate now stands at 14.4%. The long-term unemployment rate increased from 6.5% to 8.4% over the year to the third Quarter of 2011 – the long term unemployed (i.e., those unemployed for 1 year or more) now account for 56.3% of total unemployment.
While Bulgarian and Romanian nationals are, as a general rule, required to have an employment permit if they wish to come to work in Ireland, they already, in line with the terms of their Accession, have preferential treatment as compared to nationals of non-EEA (European Economic Area) countries - EEA consists of the 27 EU Member States and Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.
Notes to Editors
Current Employment Permit requirements for Nationals of Bulgaria and Romania
- Both Bulgarian and Romanian Nationals are eligible to apply for all Employment Permits, i.e., Green Cards, Work Permits, Spousal/Dependent Permits and Intra-Company Transfers, based on the eligibility criteria effective on the 1st January 2007. Since 1st January 2010, spouses or dependents of Bulgarian/Romanian Nationals that have achieved 12 months lawful employment are no longer Permit required.
- The following categories of Bulgarian and Romanian national do not require an employment permit.
- A Bulgarian or Romanian national who has been resident and employed in the State as the holder of an employment permit, expiring on or after the 31st December 2006, for an uninterrupted period of 12 months or longer.
- A Bulgarian or Romanian national who is resident in the State and is the spouse/dependant of an EU national (other than a Bulgarian or Romanian national) does not require an employment permit.
- From the 1st January, 2010, a Bulgarian or Romanian national who is the spouse/dependant of a Romanian or Bulgarian worker that has completed 12 months compliance in the labour market.
- A Bulgarian or Romanian national resident in the State who is self-employed.
- A Bulgarian or Romanian Student studying in Ireland - A Bulgarian or Romanian national who is a student in the State and is enrolled on an academic course of more than one year’s duration at a college listed on the Internationalisation Register is permitted to take up casual employment defined as up to 20 hours part-time work per week and fulltime during normal college vacation periods.
- However, a Bulgarian or Romanian national who has graduated from an Irish third level institution, and has obtained a qualification at level 7 or higher (primary degree or above) in the National Framework of Qualifications - http://www.nfq.ie/nfq/en/ and who have worked for 12 months or more post 2007 on the basis of being a student, will not require an Employment Permit after graduation. Prospective employers may require the student to show evidence of their degree and P60s and/or P45s from previous employment to demonstrate that they satisfy the above requirements for exemption from employment permit requirements.
- A Bulgarian or Romanian national who has obtained prior explicit permission from the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform to remain resident and employed in the State without an employment permit.
For media queries please contact:
Press Office, Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, +353 1 631 2200, firstname.lastname@example.org
Last modified: 16/12/2011