Reuniting Europe

On 1 May 2011 Germany and Austria will lift all restrictions on the movement of workers from the eight Central European EU member states which joined the bloc in 2004.

A massive exodus is not expected. It appears that those in Central Europe who wanted to find employment in the West are there already.

But let’s see. I personally see more and more Polish workers in Brussels. Check out this Polish lady plumber…

Maybe many of them will move to Germany? According to some forecasts, up to one million people from Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, the countries who joined the EU on 1 May 2004, may settle in Germany and Austria in the next few years. It may appear as a big number, but not for Germany. Over three million immigrants came to Germany between 1991 and 2000.

The problem appears to be that the EU newcomers suffer from a brain drain and depopulation. The worst example is Bulgaria. The EU newcomer, who has now 7,351,633 inhabitants, has lost 1.5 million of its population since 1985, a record in depopulation not just for the EU, but by global standards too.

Well, Bulgarians and Romanians are not yet free to seek employment opportunities in Germany. As they joined in January 2007, the restrictions for them are expected to last until January 2014. But again: those who want to leave for abroad always find a way.

A Europe-wide census is being conducted this year in all the 27 EU members. When all results will be ready, probably later this year, it would be interesting to see the movements of populations inside the EU. It may prove to be the biggest demographic phenomenon since World War II.

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