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Greece to delay free flow of workers from Bulgaria and Romania

EU

Greece said it won't allow the free entry of workers from Bulgaria and Romania when the two Balkan nations join the European Union next month.

Greece, which joined the bloc in 1981, will allow workers from the two new EU members to pass its borders freely after a two-year „transition” period, Greek Labor Minister Savvas Tsitouridis said late yesterday in an e-mailed statement. He announced the decision after a meeting with the industry association of northern Greece, which borders Bulgaria. „Northern Greece has a very large number of workers from neighboring countries,” Yiannis Stavrou, an official with the northern Greek industry federation, said in the statement.

The accession of Bulgaria and Romania on January 1 will give Greece its first land border with another EU country. Gross domestic product per capita in Bulgaria and Romania is a third of the average of the current 25 EU members, compared with 84% in Greece. Greek unemployment stood at 9.9% last year, the highest rate among the 12 nations sharing the euro, according to European Central Bank data. In October, both the UK and Irish governments said they would restrict migration from Bulgaria and Romania. Lithuania, Estonia, Slovakia and Finland have all said they'll allow Romanian and Bulgarian workers access to their labor markets. (Bloomberg)

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