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EUROPEAN UNION – Croatians Free to Work in Eight More EU Member States

As of 1 July 2015, eight more European Union (EU) Member States have allowed Croatian nationals full access to their labour markets, while five Member States have decided to extend their restrictions for another three years.

What has Changed?

On 30 June 2015 the first phase of the transitional arrangements for Croatian workers in the EU came to an end.

Belgium, Cyprus, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg and Spain have decided to allow Croatian citizens full access to their labour markets without requiring work permits as of 1 July 2015. Croatians will now follow standard EU registration processes in these countries.

Austria, Malta, the Netherlands, Slovenia and the United Kingdom have decided to maintain their restrictions for another three years.

The remaining Member States had already granted Croatian workers all freedom of movement rights on Croatia’s accession to the EU on 1 July 2013 and so there is no change.


According to the 2011 Act of Accession, existing EU Member States can temporarily restrict the access of workers from new EU members to their labour markets. The overall transitional period lasts seven years and is divided into three phases for Croatia:

  • For the first two years, access to labour markets for Croatian nationals is regulated by the national law of each of the other 27 Member States.

In this period 13 existing EU states decided to apply restrictions and required a work permit from Croatian workers (Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Spain, Slovenia and United Kingdom). The other countries decided to fully apply EU free movement rules to Croatian workers from the start of Croatia’s accession in July 2013.

  • During the current, second phase, which will last three years from 1 July 2015 to 30 June 2018, Member States may maintain restrictions if they notified the Commission before 30 June 2015. This is currently the case for Austria, Malta, the Netherlands, Slovenia and the United Kingdom
  • In the final two-year phase until the end of the seven-year period, from 1 July 2018 to 30 June 2020, Member States maintaining restrictions in the second phase can extend them further, after notifying the Commission, if there is a threat of serious disruption to their labour market.

During the seven years of transition, Member States can lift or re-introduce restrictions at any time. The transitional arrangements end irrevocably on 30 June 2020.

Action Items

  • When planning global assignments, take into account the lifting of labour market restrictions for Croatians working in Belgium, Cyprus, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg and Spain;
  • Note that this change is very recent and in some countries immigration officials themselves may not yet be aware of the current regulations.

This alert was prepared using information provided by ODI Law in Slovenia, ExpaTax in Poland, Corporate Relocations in Greece, Copenhagen Relocations in Denmark, Recom Relocation in Austria, APRO Consulting in France, International Business Support in Czech Republic, Expat Management Group in Netherlands, Rilvan in Romania, Corporate Care in Ireland, Mazzeschi in Italy, Convinus in Switzerland and Eres Relocation Services and Sagardoy in Spain.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this immigration alert has been abridged from laws, court decisions, and administrative rulings and should not be construed or relied upon as legal advice. If you have specific questions regarding the applicability of this information, please contact Peregrine © 2021 Peregrine Immigration Management Ltd.