By Keval Dhokia
IMMIGRANTS from the Balkan state of Croatia, which will become a full EU member on 1st July 2013, will be subjected to “transitional restrictions” that will inhibit their access to British jobs, along the lines of non-EEA countries.
The proposed regulations include barring Croatians from low-skilled jobs in an attempt to target immigration to highly skilled professionals, and an application of the tiered Points-Based System (PBS) to ascertain which migrants are skilled enough to be allowed into the UK for the purpose of employment.
The Home Office, in a policy document released last month, says: “a Croatian worker will be able to work legally and will have a right to reside beyond three months as a worker only where (work) authorisation has been granted by the UK Border Agency, and will not have a right to reside as a work seeker.”
These restrictions are in line with the Coalition government’s stringent attitude towards immigration into the United Kingdom, and very similar to the restrictions placed on Romanian and Bulgarian migrants who flocked to the Isles in search of employment when their respective countries acceded to the EU in 2007.
The restrictions also come in the light of documents released by Wikileaks less than two years ago, in which the UK Ambassador in Croatia complained to the US ambassador that the British government were “stuck in the 1990’s” over their blocking of previous negotiations to allow Croatia to join.
Concerns were raised by Britain and the Netherlands in 2010 because of Croatia’s supposed lack of co-operation with prosecution demands at The Hague, for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). The evasiveness of the Croatian government (GOC) in the arrest of former Croatian General Ante Gotovina, who was indicted for war crimes and crimes against humanity in 2001, was seen as a sign of Croatia’s inherent nationalism and hence unsuitability for EU membership.
The Wikileaks memo continues: “UK Ambassador (David) Blunt (protect) told US Ambassador (James) Foley last week that some key officials in London regard Croatia as virtually unchanged since the Tudjman era and are inclined to assume GOC bad faith in its dealings with the ICTY.”
The restrictions on Croatian workers will last until at least 1st July 2018.