Wednesday

22nd May 2019

Fear of 'youth drain' from new member states

Some new member states are battling with a 'youth drain' as well-qualified young people leave for jobs in western Europe, according to a new report.

Published on Wednesday (10 August) by the NGO, European Citizen Action Service (ECAS), the report suggests that "3% to 5% of young new member states nationals who [have] completed a third-level education tend to leave their home countries for better wage prospects".

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Do the transitional labour restrictions make 'Polish plumbers' more numerous? (Photo: Polish tourist information office in Paris)

"Sending countries (such as Poland or Hungary) fear not simply a brain drain but rather a youth drain", states the report.

Statistics show that workers tend to be predominantly young (18-34) and male.

Poland, as the biggest new member state, has the most nationals abroad. Poles make up the biggest number of eastern workers in the UK (98,235 or 56%), Ireland (40,000) and Sweden, where Poles account for 60 percent - all three member states opened their borders to new member state workers.

In Germany, where there is a seven-year transitional period before free movement is allowed, Poles are again the most numerous, with 216,575 seasonal workers and almost 20,000 contractual workers registered in the first half of 2004.

Scare-mongering

ECAS says that the statistical data on migration within the EU since enlargement last year shows that fears about an influx of workers to old member states proved to be a myth.

"The scare-mongering was wrong", said Tony Venables, head of ECAS adding "There is still an enormous gap between the public perception of enlargement and what is happening on the ground".

The authors of the report suggest that particularly in the UK, Ireland and Sweden, migrants from new member states tend to be temporary, so do not bring their family, and take jobs that others cannot or will not do.

In Warsaw, for example, a training school has been set up to prepare Polish dentists to work in Britain, where there is a lack of dentists.

Ireland most popular destination

However, the lack of restrictions in the UK, Sweden and Ireland has led to a sharp increase in the numbers of workers coming to these countries, when compared to pre-enlargement data.

In the UK, 175,000 workers have registered - much higher than the 5,000 to 10,000 predicted by the British government.

Similarly, in Ireland, 85,000 social security numbers have been allocated to migrants from accession countries, a high percentage for the small four-million strong country.

In Sweden, which is the only country that also allows equal access to its social security system, there was a 70 percent increase in the number of applications for residence permits.

But arguing that these workers fill a gap that needed to be filled, Mr Venables said that the justification for transitional measures restricting workers - in 12 of the 15 old member states -"appears indefensible".

He also indicated that there may be a link between the transitional measures and the 'Polish plumber' syndrome in France, which has become a metaphor for all the fears about cheap eastern labour.

He suggests that because it is so difficult for a Polish worker to get employed in France, the worker becomes self-employed, and charges cheaper Polish prices.

Dutch far right opens anti-Polish hotline

The Dutch far-right Freedom Party, a key ally of the centre-right coalition government, on Wednesday opened up a website to collect complaints about people from Central and Eastern Europe residing in The Netherlands.

Austria to extend work ban for EU newcomers

Austria is to extend a ban for workers from new EU countries for another three years, with a possibility of applying a maximum transition period of seven years until 2011.

Tensions mount over Kosovo-Serbia deal

Serbia will never recognise Kosovo, Serbia's foreign minister has said, as the Western Balkans heads into a new period of turbulence.

News in Brief

  1. Poll: Denmark set to double number of liberal MEPs
  2. European brands 'breaking' chemical safety rules
  3. Report: Merkel was lobbied to accept EU top job
  4. May struggling to get Brexit deal passed at fourth vote
  5. German MPs show interest in 'Magnitsky' sanctions
  6. CoE: Rights violations in Hungary 'must be addressed'
  7. EU affairs ministers rubber-stamp new ban on plastics
  8. Private companies campaign to boost turnout in EU poll

Opinion

EU should brace for a more authoritarian Erdogan

The new blend of religious nationalism will be more anti-West and anti-EU, as Brussels has anything but leverage on Turkey. The first signs of this strong rhetoric are already visible.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  3. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  4. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  5. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  6. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  11. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  12. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us