Finnish plan would limit Latvian workers

Latvians and citizens of seven other new European Union countries would still be treated as non-EU workers for the next two years under a proposal being considered by the Finnish government.

The proposal, which is scheduled to be taken up by the parliament next week, would require workers from the new EU member states to get the Finnish employment office’s approval that there are no workers in Finland who can perform the job, the daily newspaper Helsingin Sanomat reported. The government accepted the proposed legislation Jan. 15.

The two-year transition period could be extended based on the findings of a report the government would have to submit to the parliament, according to the Finnish government’s Web site.

One principle of the European Union is the free movement of people across borders, although many member states have restrictions in place.

The Finnish proposal would affect new workers from eight of the 10 countries scheduled to join the EU in May: Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia. Only workers from Malta and Cyprus would be exempt from the rule.

Finland joined the EU in 1994.

In 2002, according to Finnish Ministry of Labour statistics, a total of 21,807 work permits were issued to foreigners. More than two-thirds of those went to workers from Estonia and Russia. A total of 483 permits were issued to Latvians, half of them for garden workers.

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

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