Romanian minister: Limit EU citizens’ work time abroad

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Romania’s finance minister on Wednesday defended his proposal of a limit on the period Romanians and other European Union citizens can work abroad.

Eugen Teodorovici on Tuesday suggested a five-year limit, saying it could stop western Europe from becoming wealthier at the expense of the poorer east. “If someone goes to work in Germany” and has a work permit “there is little likelihood of him or her ever returning to Romania or Croatia,” he said.

Critics called the proposal reminiscent of the Communist period when foreign travel was severely restricted.

Teodorovici on Wednesday said his statements had been made “in the context of Romania’s acute labor force crisis,” saying the issue should be openly discussed. He denied he was questioning the EU principles of freedom of movement, goods, services and capital.

Romania’s health minister on Tuesday called for junior doctors to remain in the country for a number of years, saying the country has a lack of medics, particularly in rural areas. That statement also faced criticism from the opposition Liberal Party.

Authorities say more than 3 million Romanians work abroad, leaving a labor crisis in some industries. Most Romanians left after the country joined the EU in 2007, seeking better-paid jobs and more opportunities mainly in western Europe.

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