Sunday

22nd Apr 2018

Opinion

Can we expect a rise in migration from Eastern Europe?

  • Public perception of Eastern European migration is the main political challenge for the EU (Photo: Marta Arribas, Madrid, Spain)

Research indicates that the inflow of migrants from Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova - even after visa liberalisation - will be modest.

The Polish Centre for Eastern Studies, altogether with seven other research institutions from Central and Eastern Europe, has recently concluded research aimed at forecasting possible future migration from eastern Europe to the EU and to ‘new’ EU member states in particular.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Special attention was given to links between visa liberalisation and possible changes in migratory dynamics.

According to our findings, no large influx of labour migrants from Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova to the EU should be expected in the nearest future. This is also the case after the visa regime is abolished (as it is with Moldova).

However, the 120 migration experts questioned for the study suggested that ending the visa regime (meaning no visas are needed for travel for up to 90 days) will have some consequences.

These include temporary growth in circular migration, more long term settlement migration, inclination to family reunification, tendency for regularisation of irregular migrants already staying in the EU, and growth in migration for educational purposes.

It seems that not many new migrants will decide to migrate to the EU as a result of visa liberalisation (at least for longer periods), but the migrants already in the EU may attempt to settle down and bring their children or other family members.

Projections based on the econometric model point to a circa 50,000 increase in the number of Belarusians and Moldovans (counted separately) and around a 200,000-300,000 increase in the number of Ukrainian residents in the EU in a year, following the introduction of free movement of people (much deeper liberalisation of mobility rules that visa abolition).

Main reasons

There are a few reasons why the expected inflow is rather modest even though there are large wage disparities between the EU states and their Eastern European neighbours.

First of all, Eastern European migration to Central Europe and subsequently further West started many years ago and has already reached saturation point.

A clear majority of Eastern European migrants who wanted to find jobs in the EU have already done so, either by getting EU residence permits or being granted EU member state citizenship.

As many as 500,000 Moldovans are thought to have Romanian citizenship. In 2011-2014 around 70,000 Ukrainian nationals received Hungarian citizenship.

Secondly, Eastern European migration to the EU stabilised due to the global economic crisis and deflated national labour markets in the EU.

According to our findings, there are around 1 million Ukrainians, 200,000-300,000 Moldovans and up to 150,000 Belarusian nationals in the EU.

The most popular EU destinations for those labour migrants are Poland, Italy, the Czech Republic, Spain and Germany.

Not many new migrants arrive in the EU, rather ‘old’ ones circulate within the Union looking for best working and legal opportunities.

And thirdly, Russia still remains the primary destination for Ukrainian (around 50%), Moldovan (around 50%) and Belarusian (around 90%) migrants.

Finally, demographic factors like ageing populations and depletion of labour forces in Eastern European states should be mentioned as the longterm reasons that may hamper emigration from the region.

Political challenges

To sum up, taking into consideration the depletion of Moldova's work force and closer integration between Belarus and Russia, it is only Ukraine that matters in terms of possible migration inflows to the EU.

Future migration from Eastern Europe will probably become more diversified. Current circular migration, often related to seasonal low-skilled work, will remain.

However, permanent settlement migration may become more significant, including family reunification and educational migration.

In our research we asked the experts from the Visegrad states (Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia) to assess the main disadvantages of Eastern European migration.

In general, they did not see any major negative impacts (such as wages being driven down or social welfare burdens) related to future migration from Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus.

However, public opinion and media discourse on migration in Central Europe is more wary of immigration and often contains xenophobic attitudes.

It therefore appears that public perception about Eastern European migration is the main political challenge for the EU and its member states and not the economic or demographic risks related to it.

The writer is a migration project coordinator in Centre for Eastern Studies (OSW) in Warsaw.

More commitment to renewables from Council, please

More and more consumers are likely to invest in solar panels in the future as it becomes simpler to produce one's own electricity, writes Monique Goyens, director general of BEUC, the European Consumer Organisation.

EU should ensure sustainable Cohesion Policy

As the EU Council kicks off negotiations over the post-2020 budget, ministers have have an opportunity to create a framework that will unlock innovative financing and scale up the citizen-led clean energy transformation

How to reset EU-Burma relations

Europe should go back to its pre-2012 policy, wipe away aid and trade benefits, and tie democratic efforts to the reinstatement of benefits.

How to reset EU-Burma relations

Europe should go back to its pre-2012 policy, wipe away aid and trade benefits, and tie democratic efforts to the reinstatement of benefits.

News in Brief

  1. Audit office: Brexit 'divorce' bill could be billions higher
  2. MEPs urge better protection for journalists
  3. Dieselgate: MEPs back greater role for EU in car approvals
  4. European parliament adopts new organic farming rules
  5. EU granted protection to half million people in 2017
  6. Report: Facebook to carve 1.5bn users out of EU privacy law
  7. Greek court ruling permits migrants to travel to mainland
  8. Commonwealth summit hopes for trade boost after Brexit

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersWorld's Energy Ministers to Meet in Oresund in May to Discuss Green Energy
  2. ILGA EuropeParabéns! Portugal Votes to Respect the Rights of Trans and Intersex People
  3. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  4. Martens CentreJoin Us at NET@WORK2018 Featuring Debates on Migration, Foreign Policy, Populism & Disinformation
  5. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off
  6. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip
  7. Mission of China to the EUForeign Minister Wang Yi Highlights Importance of China-EU Relations
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersImmigration and Integration in the Nordic Region - Getting the Facts Straight
  9. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMacedonians in Bulgaria Demand to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  10. Counter BalanceThe EIB Needs to Lead by Example on Tax Justice
  11. ILGA EuropeTrans People in Sweden to be Paid Compensation for Forced Sterilisation
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsThe Danger of Standing Up for Justice and Rights in Central Asia

Latest News

  1. ECJ ruling set to end 10-year 'mouth tobacco' lobbying saga
  2. Whistleblowers, Syria and digital revolution This WEEK
  3. MEP friendship groups offer 'backdoor' for pariah regimes
  4. Macron and Merkel pledge euro reform
  5. Obscurity surrounds EU military fund's expert groups
  6. New EU party finance rules short circuit accountability
  7. Draghi to stay in secretive 'lobby' group
  8. Bulgaria offers lesson in tackling radical-right populists

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Must Work Together to Promote Global Steel Sector
  2. Swedish EnterprisesEU Tax Proposal on Digital Services Causes Concern for Small Exporting Economies
  3. Europea Jewish CongressCondemns the Horrific Murder of Holocaust Survivor Mireille Knoll in Paris
  4. Mission of China to the EUAn Open China Will Foster a World-Class Business Environment
  5. ECR GroupAn Opportunity to Help Shape a Better Future for Europe
  6. Counter BalanceControversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  7. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  8. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  9. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  10. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  11. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  12. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights