O analiză a migrației Est-Vest după extinderile UE din 2004 și 2007: efecta asupra dezbaterii politicii de migrație (An Analysis of East-West Migration Following the 2004 and 2007 EU Enlargements: Effects on the Migration Policy Debate)

O analiză a migrației Est-Vest după extinderile UE din 2004 și 2007: efecta asupra dezbaterii politicii de migrație

(An Analysis of East-West Migration Following the 2004 and 2007 EU Enlargements: Effects on the Migration Policy Debate)

 

 

Rada Cristina IRIMIE

radairimie@yahoo.com

 

 

Abstract: Of special interest to EU migration policy are the effects of the EU enlargements of May 2004 and January 2007, with the addition of the EU-8 (Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia, Lithuania, and Latvia) and EU-2 (Bulgaria and Romania) respectively. After the fall of Eastern communist regimes, massive East-West migrations were predicted and were expected to have a significant negative impact on the original EU-15. However, neither mass migration nor significant negative effects for receiving countries materialized, though many policies were implemented relating to these concerns. This paper seeks to analyze the effects of the expansions and accompanying policy changes on the long-standing trend of East-West migration. Policies implemented prior to and during the enlargements are examined, followed by an analysis of the likely impact of migration trends on both current and future EU migration policy, using comparative case studies of both sending and receiving countries. A review of the literature on trends and policies surrounding the enlargements suggests that economic concerns continue to play a role and have increasingly become the primary determinant driving migration patterns, though contributing factors such as asylum migration, ethnic return, and undocumented migration, as well as important topics in labor migration, such as the effects of the recent economic downturn and remittance flows will also be examined. Results from the analysis indicate that though EU migration policy continues to be more and more centralized, further integration is required, and should include standardized data gathering and reporting to facilitate informed policy decisions.

 

Keywords: migration, policy, enlargement, European Union.

 

 

 

Introduction

 

In 1998, negotiations for European Union membership began between the EU and the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Poland, and Slovenia, followed by negotiations with Slovakia, Lithuania, Latvia, Bulgaria, and Romania (EU-10). This led to the first Eastern enlargement of the EU in January 2004 (EU-8), and included all of the aforementioned countries except Bulgaria and Romania which joined the EU in January 2007 (EU-2). It was widely expected that mass migrations would take place from the new member states to the existing members, due in part to high wage differentials[1]. This expectation fueled intense policy debates leading up to the accessions, and immensely influenced the policy of the older EU states (EU-15). While mass migrations never materialized for most receiving countries, there was a definite change in European migration patterns, as patterns shifted from being predominantly permanent East to West flows, to circular and temporary East-West movements[2].

The next section covers a brief history of migration policy within the EU, followed by a review of the various general types and causes of migration important to the region. An examination of several cases of sending and receiving countries reveals the variety of both the drivers and manifestations of migration patterns in the EU, as well as certain themes that are common to many EU member states following the accessions. Analysis and concluding thoughts focus on the theme that throughout the migration scholarship it is repeatedly revealed that insufficient or inadequate information hinders good scholarship and the ability of policy makers to institute data-driven policies.

 

History of EU Migration Policy

The history of migration prior to the enlargements was a large part of what determined the policy shifts leading up to and during the enlargements. From the outset, the EU has sought to define and implement common policies on migration issues, including free movement within the EU member states, and common immigration, border control, and asylum policies. Since the Treaty of Rome in 1957, which set the stage for a trend towards a unified European migration policy, the EU has continued to integrate, driven by the movement towards a single market on the one hand and the relative inefficiency of national migration policies on the other. Starting in 1985, the Shengen Agreement sought to relax internal borders among EU countries and shift the focus to strengthening external borders. Then, in 1998 with the ratification of the Amsterdam Treaty, the Shengen Agreement became part of the acquis communautaire, the total body of EU legislative practices and standards. In 2007, all of the EU-10 countries except Cyprus joined the Shengen Agreement.

     Another important milestone was the Dublin Convention, which was designed in 1990 and ratified in 1997 with the intention of making it impossible for asylum seekers to apply for asylum in more than one EU member state. Further, it established that the country responsible for processing applications is the country of first handling, rather than the country of first arrival, and states that applicants can be sent back if there is no risk of persecution in the home or transit country. This essentially set up all Eastern European countries as transit countries (or “safe” countries), and caused these countries to form a buffer zone to the rest of the EU member states[3]. In response, Eastern countries like the Czech Republic and Slovenia implemented asylum policies that were monitored by international organizations such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration[4].

     Up until the fall of the USSR, Eastern European countries were concerned with regulating the flow of people out of their regions, and protecting their borders. The flow of people between Eastern European countries was relatively free among Warsaw Pact members (which included the Soviet Union, Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Poland, and Romania), but emigration outside the region, especially to Western countries, was quite limited. After the dissolution of the USSR and subsequent political changes, most Eastern European nations removed exit restrictions and instead focused on border protections. In the decades preceding the 2004 enlargement, there was a great deal of worry that mass East-West migrations would destabilize not only the receiving countries of the EU-15, but also the struggling economies of many of the accession states, leading to political turmoil as well. These fears lead to a great deal of interest in the study of European migration patterns, and the creation of policies to deal with such an influx[5]. These worries stand in contrast to most current scholarship in which there seems to be a consensus that the overall effects of enlargement are positive[6].

     Another factor influencing migration flows in the region had to do with agreements made during the accession process of the EU-10 countries. Though new entrants to the EU were eventually to be subject to the same migration policies as the old EU-15 states, labor movements were initially subject to restrictions limiting flow from the EU-10 to the EU-15[7]. Sweden, Ireland, and the UK were the exceptions, allowing immigration from new member states to proceed without significant additional restrictions. It seems likely that migration patterns were at least somewhat disrupted as migrants shifted towards the UK and Ireland due to the lack of transitional arrangements in those countries[8]. However, there is some evidence to suggest that these restrictions had little impact on migration flows as a whole[9].

     Further complicating matters was the reluctance of Eastern states to give up all of the visa-free agreements which had been in place between Warsaw-Pact states. As EU members, they were required to adopt the acquis, but doing this meant that previously easy movement between Warsaw states became a time consuming and costly prospect, as citizens of non-EU countries now needed a visa for entry into the newly added EU states[10]. Another source of migration shift came after the ratification of the Geneva Convention and European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms between 1989 and 1998 by countries that would accede to the EU in 2004 and 2007, which increased the desirability of these states as destinations for asylum seekers[11]. These developments in policy set the stage for a shift in migration patterns across the region, and set many of the parameters under which new and old member states operate in response to population inflows and outflows.

     Having now discussed some of the history and policy decisions that took place Europe prior to the enlargements, the following section examines some of the types and causes of migration in the EU, as groundwork for an analysis of several case studies of sending and receiving countries from the EU-10 and EU-15.

 

Types of Migration and Influencing Factors

 

Since the political transformations of the late 1980’s, four main types of migration have come to the fore. The first category is labor migrants, who are typically unskilled to moderately skilled workers moving from Eastern Europe to more economically advanced Western European nations, with a small percentage of managers and experts moving from West to East[12]. Economic factors continue to be the main driver of migration, especially from low to high-income counties, and to fuel demand for cheap labor in Western Europe[13]. More recently demand for Western highly skilled labor in Eastern countries has been a small but significant driver for migration[14]. The second type of migration, also related to labor factors, is small-scale traders establishing markets in border regions and big cities, typically selling goods that were purchased cheaply in their home, neighboring countries. These are especially prevalent along the Polish border.

      The third category consists of refugees, asylum seekers, and ethnic return migrants—refugees and asylum seekers played an especially large role in migration flows to the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, and Poland due to newly established asylum procedures in these states, though it slowed in later years as migration restrictions tightened[15]. This marked a change as Eastern EU states had previously been net asylum senders rather than receivers. This is also relevant to labor issues, because asylum seekers typically wish to find work in the host country in which they reside, but often can only find employment in undesirable low-wage positions[16]. An example of ethnic return migration took place following the division of the Czech and the Slovak Republics in 1993, which caused a large population exchange as migrants moved from each state into the other depending on which country individuals perceived to be their homeland, causing disruptions to the labor force of both regions[17].

     And fourth are transit migrants, or those trying to get to Western Europe or North America by passing through Eastern European countries, which tends to be driven primarily by those seeking increased economic opportunities[18]. As part of the EU, Eastern countries have become more attractive destination in their own right, in addition to serving as gateways for refugees from such places as Georgia, Russia and Asia, Other factors that influence migration patterns and policy are undocumented migration, remittance flows, and in recent years, the global economic downturn.

     Undocumented migration poses special problems for policy makers, because it is so difficult to obtain accurate data on undocumented immigrants, such as the number and origin of such individuals[19]. For example, in Poland the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs estimates that between 100,000 and 150,000 foreigners work in the country illegally each year. A telling fact is that in 2007, the number of applicants for temporary work visas was 22,000, but after policy changes to make them easier to obtain the number increased to 180,000 in 2010, though migrants still make up a negligible percentage of the Polish labor market overall. Governments may not be able to completely control undocumented immigration, but by taking steps to regularize the immigrants coming into the country better data can be gathered to inform further policy choices[20].

     Hand in hand with the issue of undocumented migrants are the problems of human trafficking and the smuggling of undocumented migrants. This in particular in an area in which good data is severely lacking, in part because of the difficult nature of obtaining data on illicit activities in general, and in part because it has so far failed to be a significant priority at the state level in the EU[21]. The upshot is that the EU community as a whole recognizes the importance of addressing the problem of irregular migration, and with the current policies in place, it can be hoped that continued progress towards state compliance will be achieved[22].

     Migration to developed countries somewhat slowed down during and immediately after the recent global economic crises, but has overall remained steady in spite of the economic downturn[23]. More recently, it appears that migration rates are beginning to rise again, though it is still too early to know whether it is the start of a definite upward trend[24]. The current economic condition influences not only the decision of individuals and groups on whether to migrate, but also affects remittance flows back to the sending countries. Remittance flows in the European region have historically been from West to East as migrants from poorer countries send wages to support relatives in their home countries. This flow of funds is thought to be one key to bringing stability to areas that would otherwise lose important segments of the workforce through emigration, and to help alleviate poverty in poorer countries[25].

     Though prior to the fall of the USSR labor migration from East to West was relatively rare, it has become increasingly important as migration restrictions have been lifted and harmonized[26]. Economic factors are generally agreed to be the primary drivers of migration, and some researchers continue to rank them as the most important factors driving migration decisions[27]. However, a simple economic cost-benefit model cannot adequately account for migration patterns. If the decision to migrate were simply based on whether all future monetary benefits from moving to the new host country would exceed the cost of moving, then factors like host-country demand, and non-economic factors like social networks would not have an impact[28]. Freeman and Kessler[29] argue with Boswell and Meuser[30] that migration studies would be best served by integrating economics and other disciplinary approaches. So while economic factors continue to be a major factor, other drivers of migration must also be taken into account.

     There is, however, a questions about the degree to which states are able to control migration flows through policy action. For example, on some views, states play a passive role, merely responding to migration choices by individuals and groups, but work done by Joppke[31] suggest that states in fact play an active role in determining migration flows. This stands in contrast to other theoretical frameworks, for instance, emphasizing structural factors that are largely outside state control[32]. On this model, the main thing states can regulate is who obtains legal immigration status. In short, there are many factors that go into informed policy decisions, and much disagreement about basic questions such as how or to what extent specific policies are able to effect migration outcomes. The keys to these questions are good data and research, but at present good country-level data can be difficult to find in spite of continued efforts to integrate migration policy among EU states.

 

Case Studies: Sending Countries

Poland

 

Poland has a long history as a sending country for migrants, though outflows tended to vary depending on the particular economic and political situation of the period. For instance, after the fall of the USSR, a large exodus of Poles of German decent took place, in spite of the fact that Polish migration policy has in general discouraged migration flows in or out of the country[33]. Network factors play a large role in the directionality of Polish migration patterns. For example, the close—if disruptive—ties with Germany provide networks for many Polish immigrants moving to Germany. In Poland itself, the number of foreigners is quite low and a negligible amount of those immigrants participate in the Polish labor market.

     After the 2004 accession, the international mobility of Poles ended up being one of the most spectacular examples of population movements in modern European history. The dynamics, scale, and structural characteristics of migration from Poland all underwent changes, most of which can be attributed to the selective opening of EU-15 labor markets and the corresponding transitory arrangements[34]. Large-scale outflows such as these are supposed to have a significant negative effect on the sending country, but analysis by Kaczmarczyk, Mioduszewska and Żylicz[35] suggests that the effects have so far been only moderate, and in the long-term, mass-migration may lead to the outflow of economically redundant segments of the population which would actually foster modernization of the Polish economy.

     Though Poland is overwhelmingly a sending country, in recent years it has also been the most important receiving country of the EU-10, hosting 77 percent of all asylum seekers in the region. With the increase in stability of the Polish economy and political situation, it has become a more attractive destination for asylum seekers. Additionally, its close proximity to less stable regions in the East, and the network relations with the Caucasus region and Georgia, which are a source of many asylum seekers, account for the relatively high percentage of asylum seekers. In recent years the number of asylum applications in Poland has even overtaken that of a number of EU-15 countries. This contrasts with other EU-10 countries like Bulgaria and Hungary that receive very low percentages of EU asylum seekers, and in general the trend for asylum seekers is still to move west into the more developed EU-15 countries[36].

     Poland, along with many other Central Eastern European countries, struggled with high unemployment in the period leading up to the accession, with rates as high as 20 percent in 2002. While from 2000 to 2004 the labor market gradually improved as the Polish economy grew, unemployment began to fall after accession in 2004[37]. Like many sending counties from the EU-10, the outcomes for Poles in their new host countries are often less than optimal, and characterized by low-wage jobs and underemployment, which may lead to a slowdown in migration as conditions at home stabilize[38].

 

Bulgaria

 

Bulgaria also has a long history as a sending country due in part to poor economic performance and regional instability. In 2010, around 430,000 Bulgarians lived in EU-15 countries, primarily in Spain, Germany, and Greece, and according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, by percentage of population Bulgaria was the second largest sending country in the world to OECD members, losing around 1 percent of its population to emigration[39]. Migrants from Bulgaria tend to be medium-skilled, but though around 70 percent are employed in their host country, positions tend to be slightly below their qualifications. Economic factors tend to be the primary motivators, and the goal is often to send remittances or improve living and working conditions[40]. Bulgaria is highly dependent on remittances, which constitute a considerable percentage of the GDP[41]. Consequently, the state of the Bulgarian economy remains closely tied to the economic health of countries that host its migrants, and the effects of the global economic downturn will likely impact Bulgaria more in the long-term.

     Overall migration rates have remained quite high, at around 3.4 percent of the Bulgarian population between the years 2004 and 2009, and saw an increase with the accession in 2007[42]. This is in spite of the fact that many potential host counties have been slow to open their labor markets to EU-2 countries, and imposed heavy transitional restrictions—even countries like the UK that placed very few restrictions on EU-8 members[43]. Though there is some concern about brain drain from Bulgaria, enrollment rates in tertiary education have increased in recent years to a level higher than found in most EU countries, and in 2008 the Bulgarian government instituted a program designed to bring high-skilled Bulgarian citizens and foreigners back to Bulgaria to settle, but it remains to be seen whether this program will be effective, and poor national data collection systems will make it difficult to assess the results. However, in general working age Bulgarian migrants tend to have lower overall educational attainments than their EU-8 or EU-15 counterparts[44]. In addition to trying to attract highly qualified Bulgarians living abroad, the government has also adopted a new National Migration, Asylum and Integration Strategy for 2011 to 2020 that seeks to prevent illegal migration and improve how labor migration is handled. With the focus on migrant integration and the recognition that migration can provide interesting opportunities for economic development, Bulgaria is continuing to push towards migration strategies in line with EU principles and policy[45].

 

Case Studies: Receiving Countries

 

Germany

Germany is largely a receiving country, though as noted above it has also been a sending country for a small number of highly skilled professionals, but it was historically a country of emigration, sending farmers to Russia, and others to Eastern Europe, south, and to the US[46]. However, under the 1949 German constitution, the return migration of ethnic Germans from East Central Europe and the former USSR to Germany and the attainment of citizenship is guaranteed. Because of this, ethnic Germans who experienced discrimination, forced resettlement, and expulsion from other countries had a homeland to move to. As a result of Germany’s encouragement of other countries to remove barriers to emigration, a tremendous flow of migrants to place based largely on ethnic grounds. After the breakup of the USSR a huge amount of ethnic return migration took place as ethnic Germans migrated to Germany from East-Central European and post-Soviet countries. Though the provision allowing easy return migration for ethnic Germans was abolished in 2005, it continues to play a role in the East-West migration dynamic of the EU—albeit a drastically reduced role compared to 2005 and earlier.

     Leading up to the 2004 enlargements, Germany was expected to be the most affected country by the increased mobility. This was thought to be the case because of the large existing EU-8 population already residing in Germany, and due to its close proximity to EU-8 countries[47]. Of the new EU-10 states, the biggest sender of migrants to Germany is its neighbor to the east, Poland. While political factors like national security push towards closure, globalization and world economics push towards openness (the so-called “liberal paradox”). In response to this, in 2000 Germany opened up tech visas designed to recruit up to 20,000 highly skilled workers, which marked a change in Germany’s long standing anti-immigration policies though public sentiment in Germany remains mixed[48]. But in keeping with the prior trend towards closure, Germany maintained restrictions on labor access for EU-10 countries for the maximum 7 years, and at least in part because of this experienced only moderate increases in migration after the enlargements[49]. Further, there is evidence that transitional arrangements may have driven high-skill workers away, leaving a greater proportion of migrants with lower qualifications[50].

     Another facet of East-West migration unique to Germany was the flow of workers from the former German Democratic Republic into the Western portion of the country. These movements tended to mirror the new migration patterns across the EU, in that they were generally circular and transitory[51]. Rather than a massive wave of migration after the accession that some researchers predicted[52], Fertig and others more accurately predicted a moderate increase in migration to Germany, especially from the first round of candidates, based on an analysis of the drivers of historical migration patterns[53].

 

Ireland

Though a modest wave of immigration was expected in Ireland, as one of only three countries to largely allow open access to new member states from the start, it was also one of the only countries where the number of incoming migrants far exceeded predictions[54]. Since 2004 a disproportionately large number of EU-8 (especially Polish) citizens migrated to Ireland, and between 2007 and 2009, the number of EU-8 citizens living in Ireland rose from 30,000 to 39,000. In the decades leading up to 2004, Ireland had a net outflow of migrants, but in 2004 this changed to a net increase which peaked in 2007 with the arrival of an estimated 32,000 migrants. One difference that saw a smaller percentage of migrants from EU-2 countries following the 2007 enlargement is that the UK placed severe restrictions on access to labor markets for EU-2 citizens[55]. Also, though EU-10 migrants are among the least educated groups in Ireland, they are still relatively well-educated. On the other hand, they tend to be employed below their skill level, in lower paying jobs in the Irish labor force with a wage disadvantage from around 32 to 45 percent relative to natives. In spite of this they do have high employment rates—as high as 80 percent within the Irish labor force[56].

     Since 2000, around 122,000 long-term migrants have arrived in Ireland, but this likely does not capture the full scope of the population movements since it does not include short-term or temporary migrants[57]. While over the next 20 years long-term immigration to Ireland is expected to fall to insignificant numbers, data gathering systems need to be implemented in order to properly track and plan for any future population movements, especially as more countries seek to join the EU in the coming decades. In the meantime, the impact of larger than expected migrations has lead to increased strain on public services, such as medical care and public housing, and as the migration restrictions ended in 2011, that is only expected to increase. Additionally, the economic downturn may cause Ireland to return to outward and return migration[58]. However, these factors have been offset by the positive economic benefits that have resulted from the enlargements, such as an additional 40,000 jobs added to the economy[59].

 

Analysis

 

It should be clear from the proceeding discussion of sending and receiving countries that the experience of EU accession varies considerably from country to country, based on a host of factors such as prior regulations, economic condition, geographic location, and networks. Typically, employment opportunities in receiving countries are low-skilled positions, and many migrant workers from EU-10 countries end up employed below their skill level. While there often seems to be some negative economic impact on sending countries, this is somewhat mitigated by remittance flows and the removal of surplus workers from the labor force. Additionally, though the general migration trend is still from East to West, since accession the trend in EU-10 countries and across the EU has been towards circular, transitory migration, rather than permanent waves of migrants coming from the East[60].

     Since 2004, about 1.8 percent of the EU-8 population has moved to the EU-15, raising the host country population by an average of 0.3 percent, approximately 75 percent of which can be attributed to the enlargements. In spite of their smaller size, the addition of the EU-2 countries sent about 4.1 percent of their total population, which resulted in an additional 0.3 percent increase in host-country population size, of which about 50 percent can be attributed to the enlargement[61]. This is expected to have a negative permanent effect on the economies of the sending countries of about 3 to 10 percent of potential per capita GDP, though this effect is expected to be offset in the short-term by the flow of remittances back to the sending countries[62]. While these figures are in some regards helpful to policy makers and forecasters, aggregate numbers fail to illustrate the diversity of experiences among sending and receiving states after the 2004 and 2007 enlargements, and in order to ascertain specific useful information for policy decisions, better data gathering systems are needed.

     As the cases of Germany and Ireland indicate, the individual policy choices regarding transitional arrangements had very specific outcomes, though since Ireland was one of very few countries that did not impose significant transitional barriers the effects are largely lost in the aggregate numbers. Similarly with sending countries, the local structural factors, networks, and other mitigating factors all had a profound influence on how the enlargements affected the social and economic outcomes of their citizens at home and abroad. Though Germany in particular has relatively high-quality migration data available, that is far from the norm, and all of the other case study countries had serious shortfalls in the quality and availability of information. The new member states of the EU-10, and the EU-2 in particular, have especially underdeveloped data systems, but are in some ways better poised for new regulation since so many structural factors are still in flux and could be built up in a way that unifies policy among EU states, making the data comparisons among states significantly less problematic. However, even EU-15 states are not free from data shortfalls. For instance, in Ireland, published data does not allow the number of EU-10 immigrants to be determined before 2006, and Barrett[63] notes a huge discrepancy between census data and administrative data (issuance of social security numbers known as PPS numbers) that continues to be a problem. Numbers from the census indicate an estimated inflow of 100,000 migrants from 2004 to 2010 versus 300,000 based on PPS numbers issued—the reasons for this discrepancy can only be guessed at, which may mean that important factors that could have significant impacts on the market and immigration models have been missed[64].

     Additionally, because of the issues with how individual states define classes of migration and gather different types of data, analysis between countries is also a challenge, and coming to reasonable policy decisions that affect the entire EU body are difficult to say the least. As a precursor to further wide-ranging migration policy changes, uniform data systems across states are essential.

 

Conclusion

 

Though there are many areas of unified migration policy, overall there is still a high degree of fragmentation and dispersion on the specifics of migration policy[65]. Fertig[66] and others have pointed out that the most difficult part of forming an analysis is the lack of good data for many regions of the world, and at present there is no unified system or methodology for population data collection among EU member states, and so the amount and quality of data available varies widely from country to country[67]. Policy makers would like to know the size, makeup, and attributes related to the timing, duration and length of stay for future waves of migration[68], but current approaches to migration theory, research, and data-collection are not comprehensive or developed enough to form accurate models and predictions about migration patterns and the effects of migration policy[69]. The European Commission recognizes the need for further integration of migration policy, and in order for this to take place, new unified data collection systems must be enacted[70].

 

 

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