The free movement of workers is one of the fundamental principles of the European Union (EU) Treaty and, generally, this concept also applies to the non-EU countries of the European Economic Area (EEA – Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway). While, in principle, Croatia gained this right for its citizens when it entered the EU on July 1, 2013, many EU member countries applied a three-phase transition to allow Croatian workers into their markets more gradually. These transitional measures are permitted under EU regulations in the case of a new accession into the EU.

Access to Labor Market in Three Phases

The first phase of the transition to provide open access to the European labor market for Croatian nationals has come to an end as of June 30, 2015. During this phase, the following thirteen EU countries applied work restrictions on Croatians: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Spain, Slovenia and the United Kingdom. In turn, Croatia also applied reciprocal restrictions on citizens of these countries as well.

Phase 2 will extend from July 1, 2015 until June 30, 2018. During this phase, eight of the above listed countries will lift their work restrictions for Croatians (Belgium, Cyprus, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, and Spain). Thus, as of July 1, only Austria, Malta, the Netherlands, Slovenia, and the United Kingdom still require Croatian nationals to obtain work authorization in certain situations and vice versa.

In the third and final phase (July 1, 2018 until June 30, 2020), EU countries will no longer be permitted to apply any restrictions on Croatians entering their labor markets, unless that country can successfully argue that free access for Croatians to their work force will result in serious disturbances to their labor market.

Registration Requirements

Although Croatians no longer require work authorization in Belgium, Cyprus, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg and Spain, registration requirements may still apply. As for all moves within the EU, we advise to contact your Pro-Link GLOBAL Immigration Specialist for a case by case assessment of potential registration requirements for any upcoming move of Croatians to these countries, and vice versa.

Caveat Lector | Warning to Reader

This is provided as informational only and does not substitute for actual legal advice based on the specific circumstances of a matter. Readers are reminded that Immigration laws are fluid and can change a moment’s notice without any warning. Please reach out to your local Pro-Link GLOBAL specialist should you require any additional clarification. This alert was prepared by Pro-Link GLOBAL’s Knowledge Management team.

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