The social affairs ministry was within its rights to fine some 10 construction and property companies for employing a Bulgarian national without a work permit, the Council of State said on Wednesday.
Until January 2014, the Dutch government said Bulgarian and Romanian nationals who wanted to work in the Netherlands needed a work permit, even though their countries were EU member states.
The companies, however, argued that permits were not necessary. They compared the situation of the Bulgarians to that of Japanese nationals, who are allowed to work in the Netherlands without a permit, an exception based on a treaty dating back to 2012.
The Council of State, however, said that Bulgarian nationals were in the same position as other people from outside the EU and the minister is under no obligation to treat Bulgarians in the same way as people from Japan.
If the court had ruled in favour of the companies, it could have cost the state hundreds of millions of euros, the Volkskrant said earlier on Monday.
The social affairs minister has handed out fines of between €150m and €200m to companies caught employing people without a proper work permit.
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