Ten countries joined the European Union in 2004. At this moment 73 million new EU citizens acquired the right to settle in all other EU member states. But they did not get full access to the European labour market. Free mobility of labour and thus the free movement of workers were and remain temporarily postponed for up to seven years.
Initially 12 out of the 15 pre-enlargement EU member states restricted access to their labour markets for newly arriving citizens of new EU member states. During the period 2004-2006 Ireland, Sweden and the United Kingdom did not implement such restrictions. Only Sweden, however, fully applied European Community law, while the United Kingdom did so in practice, but safeguarded itself by curtailing access of newly arriving EU8 migrants to certain social welfare benefits. Countries like Austria, Italy and the Netherlands offered labour permits on a quota base.
In 2006 Finland, Greece, Portugal and Spain finally decided to give EU citizens from Central Europe and the Baltics (EU8) full access to their labour markets. In 2007 the Netherlands are likely to follow their example.
The study “Labour Markets Unbound?” by Kristof Tamas and Rainer Münz is based on the analysis of available migration and labour market data as well as on four case studies. The study examines labour market effects of EU enlargement under different transitional regimes – liberal regimes in Sweden and the United Kingdom and restrictive regimes in Austria and Germany.
The following results can be derived from the analysis:
- In total EU enlargement has let to increased legal migration from new member states in Central Europe and the Baltics (EU8) to Western Europe (EU15). The additional flow has been in the order of 200,000 to 300,000 people per year. This total amount is in line with earlier forecasts that had tried to assess the East-West migration potential during the first years after EU enlargement.
- Transitional restrictions implemented by 12 of the 15 “old” EU member states during the years 2004-2006 have diverted EU8 flows to the UK and Ireland. There the inflow of EU8 labour migrants has been well above levels projected in earlier forecasts.
- EU enlargement has also let to de facto legalization of several hundred thousand EU8 citizens who were irregular residents of EU15 prior to enlargement. A certain proportion of them have meanwhile found regular employment.
- In continental Europe transitional restrictions have definitely not reduced the size of the irregular migrant workforce.
- During the first two years since enlargement (2004-2006) the flow of labour from EU8 to EU15 seems to have been more demand-driven than regulated by the implemented transitional regimes.
- The United Kingdom and Ireland have experienced robust economic growth. There migrant labour from new EU member states has played a vital role in filling labour market gaps and expanding the workforce.
- The Swedish case shows, however, that legal access of EU8 citizens to a West European labour market does not automatically lead to considerable immigration. In this country tight regulations of wages and labour standards at “shop level” have prevented EU8 citizens from effectively competing with Swedish workers.
- Some EU15 countries that had opted for transitional restrictions during the period 2004-06 have also experienced economic migration from EU8. Countries like Austria, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands continued to issue short-term permits to EU8 citizens (as this had already been the case prior to EU enlargement).
- In the case of Austria a flexible handling of short-term permits was able to bridge the tension between additional demand for labour and a restrictive implantation of transitory arrangements. As a result the number of EU8 workers – in particular from neighbouring Hungary and Slovakia – has increased since 2004.
- In Germany the inflow from EU8 – in particular from Poland – initially increased in 2004 despite an overall decline of migration flows to Germany. In 2005, however, unfavourable labour market conditions also seem to have reduced the inflow of additional labour migrants from EU8.
- As a result the share of EU8 labour has more or less remained stable in Germany (at 0.7 per cent of total labour force) and Sweden (at 0.2 per cent of total labour force) during 2003-2005. But they have doubled in Austria (from 0.7 to 1.4) and in the United Kingdom (from 0.2 to 0.4 of total labour force).
- Continued transitional measures also seem to be shielding some sections of the native labour force and service providers from additional competition. At the same time they have the effect of postponing foreseeable market adjustments.
- At the same time countries like Austria and Germany are reporting rapidly growing numbers of EU8 citizens who have registered as self-employed service providers. This can – at least partly – be interpreted as a way of circumventing transitional restrictions.
Hannah Zackrisson | alfa
WAKE-UP provides new treatment option for stroke patients | International study led by UKE
17.05.2018 | Universitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf
First form of therapy for childhood dementia CLN2 developed
25.04.2018 | Universitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf
The more electronics steer, accelerate and brake cars, the more important it is to protect them against cyber-attacks. That is why 15 partners from industry and academia will work together over the next three years on new approaches to IT security in self-driving cars. The joint project goes by the name Security For Connected, Autonomous Cars (SecForCARs) and has funding of €7.2 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Infineon is leading the project.
Vehicles already offer diverse communication interfaces and more and more automated functions, such as distance and lane-keeping assist systems. At the same...
A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.
The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...
At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.
At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...
There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?
At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...
So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics
Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...
25.05.2018 | Event News
02.05.2018 | Event News
13.04.2018 | Event News
25.05.2018 | Event News
25.05.2018 | Machine Engineering
25.05.2018 | Life Sciences