Though the new legislation will not affect member states’ powers to restrict the entry of unskilled workers from outside the EU, for example through quotas, national governments are concerned that it will create additional costs for their social services. The directive was among the four pieces of proposed EU legislation that prompted the highest number of opinions from national parliaments in 2010-11, according to the European Commission. “The political context is extremely difficult now,” Moraes said. “Even at the best of times, this kind of legislation is difficult. If the members [of the civil liberties committee] had simply looked at the politics of seasonal workers in the middle of austerity and not studied the actual proposal, this would never have passed.” But, he said, “we still need workers in the EU despite austerity, to keep the European economy growing, we have to have standards, we have to encourage good employers and to marginalise exploiters”. Seasonal workers from outside the European Union could gain new rights under legislation taking shape in negotiations between the European Parliament and national governments. Negotiations began yesterday (30 May) with a meeting between MEPs and diplomats from Denmark, the holder of the rotating presidency of the Council of Ministers, and Cyprus, which takes over the presidency in July. This is the first time that the EU has legislated on non-skilled immigrants. MEPs endorsed draft minimum standards in an unopposed vote in the civil liberties committee in April, a result that surprised national diplomats as well as Claude Moraes, a centre-left British MEP in charge of the dossier. But Moraes says that stronger social protection for seasonal labourers, who typically work in tourism and agriculture, is not a priority for either Denmark or Cyprus.