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Europe

Sweden Opens Doors to New EU Workers

Sweden's parliament decided Wednesday that workers from the new EU member countries will have unrestricted access to its labor market.

A majority in the Swedish Parliament on Wednesday turned down a proposal from the ruling Social Democrat party to limit migrant workers from the new European Union member states. The rejection means Sweden will be one of only three EU countries not limiting access to its labor markets for citizens from central and eastern Europe. Ireland and the UK will also grant free access to their labor markets but intend to restrict access to social security schemes. The vote is seen as a major defeat for Prime Minister Göran Persson. He managed to get support neither from the left nor the right of parliament for his proposal. Minister for migration and asylum policy Barbro Holmberg warned in the debate that the Swedish social security system would be at risk of exploitation and salaries could slump. "The problem is that three Swedish child allowances corresponds to an average salary in many of the new EU countries," she said, according to Dagens Nyheter newspaper. MPs from both sides of the chamber blamed the Social Democrat government of hostility towards foreigners. (EUobserver.com)

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