Since 1 January, Romanian and Bulgarian citizens have had the right to work in any EU member state as the New Year marked the lifting of the last remaining restrictions on free movement for Bulgarian and Romanian workers. These restrictions, permitted for a maximum period of seven years in the accession treaties of the two member states, were still in force in eight member states: Belgium, Germany, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Malta, the United Kingdom and Austria. Meanwhile, in July 2011, Spain reintroduced restrictions for Romanian workers only, due to major economic disturbances on the Southern European country's employment market.

However, the UK is not happy about the lifting of these restrictions. During the EU summit of 19-20 December 2013, British Prime Minister David Cameron called for conditions to be imposed on the liberalisation of the employment market in future accession acts. Indeed, Cameron wants the rights of citizens from a candidate country to go and work in another member state to depend on the wealth of the country of origin, such as its GDP or average salary. "While we know that countries such as Serbia and Albania may one day join the EU, we must find a way to slow down access to the labour market until we are sure that it will not cause major migrations. We have to restore a more reasonable basis to the principle of free movement, and make it clear that it cannot be an unconditional right," he said in Brussels, on 20 December. He also hopes to restrict access to social benefits for migrant workers - such as family allocations - in order to fight 'benefit tourism'.

Nonetheless, when questioned on the legality of such measures, the European Commission said that it had not received any concrete proposals from the British Conservative leader."We must wait and see exactly what Mr Cameron is going to propose. However, the unrestricted free movement of workers is a fundamental principle of the EU, established in the treaties - it is not Brussels' invention! Any modification of the treaties will require negotiation with all member states, and ratification by all parliaments," said the spokesperson for Employment Commissioner Laszlo Andor. He also...

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