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Norway announces phase-in period

Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik confirmed that Norway will most likely introduce phase-in period for immigrant workers when the European Union is expanded May 1.

Bondevik made the announcement of the phase-in period of immigrant workers during his meeting in Brussels.

The Norwegian government had initially planned to give citizens in the new EU countries free access to Norway from day one, but after a number a countries now have announced interim arrangements, the Norwegian government has also changed its stand in the issue.

Swedish Prime Minister Göran Persson stated last week that Sweden most likely would introduce phase-in period. Local Government Minister Erna Solberg said that Norway would also consider it. Britain’s Prime Minister Tony Blair announced Wednesday that they would re-evaluate the plans of allow a free movement of the EU workforce. Finally, Bondevik announced Thursday that the cabinet would propose in Stortinget that a phase-in period was established in Norway as well.

He stated that there was a need to establish a similar practice in Norway as neighboring countries.

“Our intention was to open the boarders for citizens of the new membership countries, but we have now seen that some of our neighboring countries, Sweden being the latest, have announced that they will have a phase-in period,” Bondevik said at his meeting with the European Commission President Romano Prodi in Brussels Thursday, reported the news agency Reuters.

The Norwegian Labor Party (Ap) has already prepared an elaborate proposal for a phase-in period. The proposal was delivered at Stortinget Wednesday and Karl Eirik Schjøtt-Pedersen, Labor spokesperson, stressed that the Labor Party was for a workforce immigrants from the new EU countries, but wants regulations to prevent workforce immigration leading to social dumping.

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