2004 | nr 25 A New All-European Development Model in an Enlarged EU : Social and Economic Aspects | 298--318
Impact and Welfare of Migrants in the Expanded EU
The accession of the 10 new members to the EU has renewed the debate on migration. This debate is reminiscent of the earlier debate around the accession of the Southern European and economically poorer countries of Portugal, Spain and Greece. The prediction and misplaced fear of large emigration from these countries to then Common Market were proved to be wrong. Migration from these countries had started well before their accession to the EU. Indeed migrants from these countries (as well as those from Turkey, Indian sub-continent, North Africa, and the Caribbeans) contributed greatly to the reconstruction of Western Europe after the WWII. As much as the predictions that those migrants would depress wages and living conditions of the indigenous workers were wrong, it is more than possible that the current predictions in relation to immigration from the accession countries would be wrong. The fact that migration will take place with enlargement is not in dispute, but its scale and impact on the host country as well as on the immigrants and their countries. Large scale migration flows from the New Member States to the EU15 should NOT be taken for granted simply because of income and employment gaps between the two, since similar gaps within the EU15 has not resulted in large migration flows. Nor are justified the fears of the impact of new migration on wages and employment prospects in the EU15. Theoretical and empirical literatures show that (Mice and for all population movements, despite their short-term negative impacts, would NOT have long-term impacts on wages and employment. The focus of debate should therefore shift towards easing of restriction on movement of labour and improving the legal and human rights of migrants and their longterm welfare, in order to offer migrants a bigger stake in the more cohesive and inclusive Europe. An ageing European population needs a less restrictive migration policy towards non-EU countries, and can ill afford compartmentalised labour markets within its border. (original abstract)
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