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Europe

Concern Over Measures Against New Workers

The European Commission has admitted that it is concerned about the series of steps taken by member states to restrict the rights of workers from new member states from May 1.

EU Commission spokesperson Reijo Kemppinen said: "We all here are rather concerned about what is happening." His comments come as one by one current member states have decided to either partially or fully close the door to workers from central and eastern Europe. The latest moves came yesterday by the UK and Ireland, who indicated that they would consider curbing benefits for migrants from the new member states. London and Dublin, along with Stockholm and The Hague, led a group of states two years ago who said they would keep their markets open. For the new member states who were fairly certain that the majority of others would take the same course, the turnaround comes as a shock. The accession treaties allow member states to impose restrictions for up to seven years after enlargement. However, given the sensitivities surrounding the question and the fact that governments can take the decisions on their own, the details of what they are actually planning to do are very murky. "We have asked member states to give us the information," said Commission spokeswoman Antonia Mochan. She added that by the end of January just two governments had complied. This is not the first time that the 'old' member states have worried about 'new' ones. When Spain and Portugal joined in 1986, a seven year transitional period was also agreed. However, because the fact that economic pick-up in these countries was so quick, the transition period was shortened. In fact, a net amount of workers returned from the northern states to these two countries. (EUObserver.com)

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