Wednesday, February 11, 2009

EU court rules against France in labour freedom case

Published: Wednesday 11 February 2009

The European Court of Justice yesterday (10 February) ruled against Paris in a case where lawyers, medics and dentists from Bulgaria and Romania were unlawfully denied access to the French labour market.

The court ruled that France had failed to transpose elements of EU legislation regarding the two latest EU newcomers, Bulgaria and Romania.

The case concerned lawyers, doctors, dentists and architects. Legal action had been initiated by the European Commission in October 2007.

A Court spokesperson told EurActiv that France had in fact adapted legislation in the meantime as far as architects were concerned. Therefore, only lawyers, medics and dentists were still affected by the ruling, she insisted.

France was ordered to pay legal expenses, but the Court decision does not lift the labour restrictions, the spokesperson pointed out. In addition, Bulgarian and Romanian professionals tempted to consider themselves as victims of unfair treatment would not be entitled to compensation, she explained.

Nevertheless, the spokesperson admitted that such persons could claim compensation in individual court proceedings, based on the Court of Justice ruling.

Some of the EU's strongest and wealthiest Western member states continue to restrict access to their labour markets for workers from Eastern Europe.

France, which is far from being the most restrictive EU country, lifted several barriers to its labour market for citizens of Bulgaria and Romania in July 2008, a year earlier than planned.

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