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Europe

EU criticizes Germany over labor laws

The Czech Republic, which currently holds the EU Presidency, has criticized Germany and Austria for retaining job restrictions on workers from the eight ex-communist nations that joined the bloc in 2004.

German tradesmen at work

The EU's not happy that Germany's still keeping the door closed to workers from new member states

A statement posted on the Czech Presidency's website on Thursday says that citizens from those countries “in no way pose any threat to the German and Austrian labor markets.” The statement was attributed to Jana Rihova, spokeswoman for the Czech Labor and Social Affairs Ministry.

The European Commission confirmed that Belgium and Denmark would scrap remaining curbs from May 1 for job seekers from the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia, all of which joined the EU in 2004.

All other EU countries - except Germany and Austria - have already lifted the labor restrictions imposed on the 2004 newcomers.

Meanwhile, citizens of Bulgaria and Romania, which joined the EU in 2007, continue to face restrictions in the older member states except Finland and Sweden.

The measures were originally meant to ease the concerns of unions in older member states, which feared that cheap workers would flood their labor markets.

All temporary labor restrictions are due to be phased out by the end of 2013.

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