Sarkozy Ends French Job Ban

Sarkozy Ends French Job Ban
Steven Muller (May 29, 2008)

During a one-day visit to Warsaw on Tuesday French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced that his country would lift job restrictions on Poles and others of the EU"s former communist states. He also promised a deal aimed at bringing Ukraine closer to the bloc but seemed to play down its chances of membership.

France was part of a majority of EU states that imposed employment restrictions on citizens of Poland and other countries that joined the European Union in 2004. The limits, which stopped ordinary Poles from travelling to the country to look for work, will be lifted on July 1.

"I am going to announce this during my speech in Parliament," Sarkozy said when asked about media reports on the matter. "Poland is one of the six great countries of Europe. The EU is based on the free movement of people. Poland is also our strategic partner."

Of "old EU" member states, only Austria, Belgium, Denmark and Germany now maintain the ban. Norway and Liechtenstein – non-EU countries that are part of the European Economic Area – also restrict access to their job markets for citizens of the countries that joined the union in 2004. Switzerland, which has bilateral agreements with the EU on free movement of people, also restricts employment for those countries. Under EU law, these restrictions must be lifted by 2011.

Sarkozy also told a joint news conference with Prime Minister Tusk on Wednesday that Ukraine would be offered closer cooperation with the European Union during a French presidency of the bloc, which starts on July 1.

“When you go to Ukraine, when you visit Kyiv, you see it's a European city,” Sarkozy said. “Ukraine and Kyiv are geographically and culturally part of Europe. As president of the European Council I will organise an EU-Ukraine summit that will take place in September.

“I've met with the president of Ukraine and his objective is not membership, rather closer cooperation on various levels. I will have opportunities to make such proposals,” he added.


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