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Iceland closed to Bulgaria and Romania

The new coalition administration of the Icelandic government has decided to postpone until 2009 or 2014 a policy of open immigration from Bulgaria and Romania, which joined the EU on January 1.

As a member of the EEA Iceland is obligated to allow open immigration to the country from other EEA and EU member states, but may exercise a stipulation in the agreement which effectively postpones immigration from the two newcomers, Bladid reports.

“We are exercising this postponement clause but they have the rights to come here through service contracts and temporary work contracts,” said Minister of Social Welfare Jóhanna Sigurdardóttir of foreign nationals form Bulgaria and Romania.

“We have the right to postpone it even further to 2014. But we will review the situation before that time and then we will find out whether there is still reason to exercise the postponement clause,” Sigurdardóttir added.

The government plans to put a bill to amend legislation on the policy of open immigration and employment rights before parliament tomorrow.

According to Bladid, the Liberal Party (Frjálslyndi flokkurinn) campaigned on postponing immigration from Bulgaria and Romania as part of its platform before the elections, which had been criticized by other parties, including the Social Democrats (Samfylkingin), who are now in government and decided to exercise Iceland’s rights in this matter.

“There is always a reason to celebrate when people come to their senses. Everyone who wanted to talk about this issue objectively could see that it was of great importance. This shows that the Social Democrats’ talk of radicalism, injustice and racism was empty patter,” said Jón Magnússon, MP for the Liberal Party.

“I’m just waiting to hear their arguments. We will discuss this issue once it’s put before parliament,” said Steingrímur J. Sigfússon, MP for the Left Greens (Vinstri graenir).

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