Slovenia's Chamber of Commerce and Industry urged parliament on Thursday to reject a draft law proposed by the government that would delay the free movement of workers from neighboring Croatia to Slovenia until mid-2020.
Croats should be able to work in Slovenia without special permits from July this year, in line with European Union rules. But weeks ahead of a general election, the center-left government is seeking a delay to prevent what it calls potential labor market disruption.
The Chamber said in a statement that local labor could not meet rising demand for workers in Slovenia, and "therefore we are and will be dependent on employing foreigners if we want to retain economic growth and development".
"Prolonging limitations for Croatian workers is therefore entirely contradictory to the needs and expectations of the economy and particularly companies on the Slovenian-Croatian border," it added.
Parliament is expected to debate the draft law before the election, which is expected in late May or early June.
The government said on Wednesday that Croatia's geographic and cultural ties to Slovenia meant "the leveling of Croatian citizens with domestic workers could have a significant negative effect on the Slovenian labor market".
Slovenia's jobless rate was 5.8 percent in the last quarter of 2017, the lowest level in 8.5 years.
The Slovenian government expects economic growth of 5.1 percent this year, boosted by exports and investments, after the economy expanded 5 percent last year, a 10-year high.
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