No "Social Tourism" from New EU Member States

A European Commission report published Wednesday shows that the European Union’s ”old” members should not fear cheap workers from the new, former communist countries that joined in 2004.

According to the report, workers’ mobility from the EU Member States in Central and Eastern Europe to the old EU-15 has had mostly positive effects.

Sweden, along with the UK and Ireland, were the only EU countries that did not apply mobility restrictions after the May 2004 expansion. The other 12 EU countries are using transitional arrangements.

Before the expansion of the EU, Sweden’s Prime Minister Göran Persson was concerned that the country would be flooded by what he called ”social tourists” - people wanting to come here to reap social benefits.

Though there was no flood of workers to Sweden, Britain or Ireland, the Commission’s report states that the three nations had benefited from not applying mobility restrictions and urged other EU members to rethink whether their restrictions, such as work permits and quotas, were needed.

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