15:41 Wed 31 Dec 2008 - Petar Kostadinov Greece has decided to open its labour market to Bulgarians and Romanians from January 1 2009, a statement on the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry’s website said on December 31 2008.
“On December 31 2008 the Greek government officially said that it opens its labour market for Bulgarians and Romanians as of January 1 2009,” the statement read.
Greece follows Spain, which was the first European Union country to lift the ban on Bulgarian and Romanian workers, out of 15 EU countries who imposed such restrictions when the two countries joined the EU in 2007.
On December 19 2008, the Spanish government decided to lift restrictions on Bulgarian and Romanian workers taking jobs in Spain.
Denmark soon followed suit. However, Ireland, the UK, Germany and Austria have recently confirmed they will retain labour market restrictions for citizens of both states despite a recommendation from the European Commission that these be lifted.
Meanwhile it was announced that Bulgarian Kostadinka Kouneva, one of the leaders of the Greek union of cleaners and domestic servants who was attacked on December 23 by two assailants who splashed sulphuric acid in her face, has been assigned a Greek lawyer to represent her.
Greek media suspects that the attack against her relates to her activity as a union leader.
After the attack Kouneva was admitted to hospital in a critical condition. On December 25 2008 she was brought out of a medically induced coma in which she had been kept for several days in the intensive care unit of Athens' Evangelismos Hospital.
On December 30 2008 Bulgarian news agency BTA said she was still in critical condition and that she risked losing one of her eyes. She sustained serious facial and throat burns as a result of the attack that prompted protests by Kouneva’s colleagues in Greece and by Bulgarian trade unions.