RIGA - Foreign Minister Artis Pabriks and Interior Minister Dzintars Jaundzeikars have said that they believe Latvia should open its labor market to Bulgaria and Romania after these countries accede to the EU in January.
Pabriks said he would continue to speak in support of opening the labor market to the EU newcomers. "In my opinion, movement of labor with these countries should not be restricted after their accession to the EU," the foreign minister said.
"Latvia has called on the EU for equality among states," he indicated. "We did not like to be restricted, so why should we play such a double game with Romania and Bulgaria? We must develop normally together," said Pabriks, a member of the People's Party.
Jaundzeikars, who is a member of Latvia's First Party, also feels that the Baltic state, which is currently experiencing a labor shortage, should not apply restrictions on guest workers from Romania and Bulgaria, Edgars Vaikulis, head of the interior minister's office, said.
Jaundzeikars believes that "Latvia must show the same attitude we wanted to see when joining the EU," Vaikulis said.
Moreover, in the minister's opinion, the absence of labor restrictions will not leave any impact on Latvia's labor market, as an influx of an guest workers from the two Balkan states is expected to be only occasional and not systematic. The minister called to mind Latvian residents who have chosen to seek better-paying jobs not in the Czech Republic or Hungary, but in Great Britain and Ireland, where living standards are significantly higher.
Prime Minister Aigars Kalvitis' spokesman, Arno Pjatkins, said Latvia has always backed the principle of equality for all EU member states, so there are neither political nor other reasons for setting any restrictions for Romanian and Bulgarian nationals who would like to come to work in Latvia.
The Estonian government last week decided not to apply labor restrictions for Bulgarian and Romanian guest workers. "Estonia has always considered full opening of the labor market within the EU borders as necessary and also when Estonia acceded to the EU it didn't consider restrictions as necessary," the government press office said.
The Social Affairs Ministry has said that there is no need to restrict the access of Bulgarian and Romanian nationals to the Estonian labor market and that opening of the labor market will have no negative effect on Estonia.
The European Commission last week gave the green light to Bulgaria and Romania to join the bloc next year.