EU supports Canaries’ priority for local workers

Update 24 June: One does wonder, sometimes, what the President of the Canaries is actually thinking. Sometimes, however, it’s all too clear. Thanks to his personal blog, and the comments of the Canarian Government’s officer for development of autonomy Fernando Ríos, it is now evident that the ruling nationalist party not only wants to restrict employment opportunities to “residents” (still to be defined, as I say below), but that they have illusions of scaling one of the sacred edifices of European immigration policy: free movement of peoples within the EU. “The Canaries are full” is the message, and the islands’ RUP (ultraperipheral) status allows it. The EU seems to be in sympathy.  I will be speaking to Clio O’Flynn on Radio Sur Adeje’s English Time about this issue at lunchtime today. Listen in.

Update 9 March 2013: President Rivero has called on businesses to “employ residents”, as the crisis deepens. He reproached businesses for contracting employees “from abroad”. Now hang on a minute, Mr President. There are plenty of “residents” here who originated “abroad”. If you intend to say “only employ Canarians and let foreigners go hang”, please have the goodness to say it straight.

Original post 8 July 2012: The EU has ruled that the Canarian Government may give priority to Canarian resident workers without it being considered discriminatory. The minister for Economía, Hacienda y Seguridad, Javier González Ortiz, has said the decision is “very positive” and that the high rate of unemployment in the islands is not just a consequence of the loss of jobs, but of the large number of foreign workers seeking employment here.

Sr González Ortiz added that the weakness of the local job market and the high impact of the economic crisis here were aspects of the case that the EU took on board when deciding that the Canarian Government’s priority of local workers did not breach EU treatises.  This consideration has also been incorporated into the recent EU report on the new strategy for ultraperipheral regions for 2014-2020.


  1. We were in London recently, staying at a Good hotel and I can’t tell you the number of Spanish staff we came across, both in the hotel and in bars and restaurants………can’t have it all ways……there are loads of young people from the Spanish mainland employed in London……..

  2. I have no knowledge of any particular ‘freedoms’ offered via the ultra peripheral status but surely The Canary Islands have no option but to comply with EU regulations. So how can they legally prevent other EU residents entering the islands – that includes Spanish.

    No more Russians (and alike) coming here to buy up property then 🙂

  3. Author

    it’s the special status for outlying regions that means we get favourable customs and excise duty here, for example, and which has allowed restrictive tourism policy … seems the EU’s accepting that jobs need to be prioritized for locals. Not so sure how they’ll react to the latest suggestions that job restrictions might also apply to other EU nationals …

  4. Hello Janet
    The issue of local resident workers could just as easily apply to the owner/worker of a business. Would this kind of protectionism extend to those owners of a business (i.e. bar/restaurant, estate agent, sole agent, builder etc.)

  5. This sort of insular attitude and policy will no doubt be popular with some local people (as can be seen in the UK with the growth of support for UKIP) but as a long term strategy it is flawed.
    External investment is crucial and Ken makes a good point about whether the protectionist policy will extend to ‘foreign’ owners of businesses.
    I think the economic situation in the EU generally is now beginning to give cause for concern and its very existence is looking extremely fragile. More and more Governments seem to be looking inwards instead of outwards and I do think as Janet said, that it is worrying when one of the fundamentals of the EU – free movement to live and work – seems to be under threat.

  6. Author

    I don’t think so, Ken. It’s particularly public services they’re aiming at, and the larger employers. It’s worth pointing out, though, that all businesses open to the public here must have one Spanish speaker on duty at any given time.
    Agreed, Phillip, UKIP is a fair analogy, apart from the EU issue … the Canaries do too well from Europe to want to leave!

  7. Janet – Not wishing to go off subject here, I note your comment; “It’s worth pointing out, though, that all businesses open to the public here must have one Spanish speaker on duty at any given time.” We have friends who have owned a bar for some 5 years now and when we spoke to them about this a while back they said it did not apply to their case because the law was established years after they took ownership of the premises. Apparently that was legal advice. What is your understanding of this?

  8. Author

    My understanding is that from the point at which the law came into force, all establishments must have someone who speaks Spanish. Specifically, I should say that it’s hostelry establishments that the law is concerned with, and it does contain certain exclusions.
    THIS is the law. The exclusions are itemised in article 3, namely those giving free catering services or where the establishment is not open to the public, takeaway or home delivery food establishments or where food is provided by machine or via transport, and catering outlets in touristic establishments. I see nothing in article 3 that excludes establishments set up before the law came into force.
    Article 7 is the requirement: “contar con personal que hable español” – to include Spanish speaking staff.
    The law was modified in January 2013 – link – but there are no substantive changes to affect the exclusions, and the requirement to have Spanish speaking staff remains.

  9. Thanks for the clarification Janet. All I can say is there are a lot of English run bars out there who, it would seem, are not complying with the law.

  10. Author

    yes, I would agree with that.

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