Slovaks may fear their countrymen more than Austrians do, the Sme daily wrote on March 31. The paper was referring to the alarm of some Slovaks already working in Austria, who are concerned that the removal of working restrictions on citizens from central and eastern European EU member states in early May could herald greater competition in the Austrian labour market. The changes will also apply in Germany.
When Slovakia, along with seven other central and eastern European countries, joined the European Union in 2004, Austria and Germany asked for a ‘protective’ period of 7 years during which they were allowed to restrict the number of citizens from new member states who could work in their countries. That period ends at the beginning of May this year.
The situation has now changed and officials do not expect an influx of labour into Austria from neighbouring (or even more distant) countries. The Austrian authorities expect about 20,000 people to seek work there in the first year after the limit is lifted, with the number dwindling thereafter. Some Slovaks, especially those with fewer qualifications, fear increased competition from their countrymen, however. Slovaks and Czechs are attracted to Austria mainly by higher wages – they must be paid the same as locals – although the differential is not as big now as it was in 2004.
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.
31. Mar 2011 at 14:00