EU Immigration Analysis
The paper focuses on the issue of immigration to the EU and the inner migrations within the Union. The investigation demonstrates that financial factors greatly influence the immigrants’ opinion to move, and the cultural and linguistic reasons make them choose certain countries. Besides the formation of the common labor marker that attracts new foreign specialists, military conflicts conditioned uncontrolled flows of the refugees and asylum seekers. In order to manage all the migration flows, the international community should develop a plan for managing the arriving people, providing them with jobs for the benefit of the country’s economy and improving the living conditions in their home countries to reduce the potential waves of the refugees.
The concept of immigration has always been present in the consciousness of people starting from the migrating tribes. The greatest issue that the receiving countries are concerned about is their labor markets influenced by the immigrants. This report gives a brief historic overview of the immigration waves in the EU, and factors that contribute to people’s decision to leave their native countries and determines the main negative and positive implications of the EU migrations. The approach chosen for the paper is investigating a number of trustworthy sources and some statistical information and choosing the most important concepts according to the mentioned outline. The performed investigation proved that the European immigrants do not affect the receiving labor markets, but have an ability to develop the economy and some social spheres, if being properly administered.
The EU Countries Opening Their Labor Markets
The EU enlargement in 2007 with Bulgaria and Romania (EU2) brought many concerns due to the fact that the differences in the income rates in the countries of EU2, EU8 and the old members of the Union were great. The immigration of the members of the former Soviet countries to the Western part of Europe was for some time prohibited as the ex-soviet republics were undergoing a process of complicated social and economic changes (Kahanec, Zaiceva and Zimmerman, 2009). “These specific circumstances partly explain the sensitivity of the migration issue among the general public as well as policy makers across Europe, who feared economic, social, cultural and political consequences of free east-west migration in an enlarged EU” (Kahanec, Zaiceva and Zimmerman, 2009, p. 1). The main reason for all these concerns was the competition in the labor markets. The EU enlargement of 2007 led to 10 of 25 EU countries opening their labor markets for EU2. Almost all other European states promptly followed their example (Kahanec, Zaiceva and Zimmerman, 2009, p. 1).Thus, creating a common labor market was one of the most important EU aims.
The EU Migration Waves: Factors and Causes
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The greater the EU became, the more actively the waves of migrants arrived. The number of migrants was especially high in Ireland and the UK. The citizens of E2 continued going to Spain and Italy (Kahanec, Zaiceva and Zimmerman, 2009). Besides the migration inside the EU, it is important to mention the immigration waves to Europe from Africa, the Middle East and South Asia. The number of immigrants grew very quickly and the flows became uncontrolled. The increase of illegal migration led to the fact that by 2012, 51% of the refugees entered the EU, crossing the Greek border (Park, 2015). The current statistical data confirms that “On 1 January 2014, the number of people living in the EU-28 who were citizens of non-member countries was 19.6 million while the number of people living in the EU-28 who had been born outside of the EU was 33.5 million” (European Union, 2015). It is important to state that the main cause of such rapid and growing immigration to the EU was not seeking for a simple financial benefit.
As it was mentioned in the introduction, tribes have always been migrating, primarily looking for food and more comfortable places for living. The beginning of modern uncontrolled EU immigration was conditioned by a number of factors. Thus, trying to generalize these causes, Kahanec, Zaiceva and Zimmerman (2009) state that “migration theories imply the significance of international differentials, net of migration costs, in earnings and income levels; costs of living; unemployment rates; the quality of public goods; and the generosity of the welfare systems” (p. 2). The authors also write about cultural and linguistic differences between the sending and receiving countries. The smaller these differences are, the more likely that the people will make a decision to immigrate, seeking for better life, it is. There is no doubt that a factor of earnings distribution should be taken into account, as well as self-selection of the immigrants based on their observable or hidden characteristics (Kahanec, Zaiceva and Zimmerman, 2009). It is possible to conclude that the growing number of the EU immigrants became a great burden for the European governments, and it was and still is impossible to evaluate all the causes, which force people to immigrate.
Possible Implications of the EU Immigration on the Commerce and Society
Regardless of the fact that the scholars determined a constantly increasing level of the EU migrants and made some attempts to assess the causes of this process, the most important aspect of the issue is to reveal its implications for the EU economy and society. The economists and political scholars engaged in studying the problem agree that the influence of the immigrants on the labor markets of the receiving countries is minimal and is most likely positive. Kahanec, Zaiceva and Zimmerman (2009) state that the immigrants brought new physical forces and more skillful labor to the host countries. The level of unemployment quickly decreases with the growth of the immigration level. There is no evidence that the migrants somehow oppress the native citizens at the labor market. However, there is an opposite side of the issue. The majority of the immigrants from the new member states are overrepresented in the sectors that do not require any skillful labor, such as construction or manufacturing. At the same time, the level of their education is determined as relatively high, so the process can be defined as “brain wasting” and may have some negative consequences. For example, skillful workers, not having a chance to find a corresponding working position, will return to the source country. As for now, the sending countries suffer from the outflow of young and prospective people (Kahanec, Zaiceva and Zimmerman (2009).
As it is determined that the labor markets of the receiving countries mostly benefit from the immigration flows, it is important to see how the EU countries control the process of immigration to keep these positive effects. An interesting example can be the strategy of Germany. The country tried to keep its labor market closed as long as possible. By the end of 2007, the number of immigrants in the state was 5.5 million (Brenke, Mutlu and Zimmermann, 2009). Therefore, the country decided to take some controlling measures and created a strong legal framework for the working immigrants:
Self-employed workers from the EU8 are allowed to settle in Germany and run a business. However, they may not employ workers from their home country. Temporary work permits are given to employees from EU8 countries (including Bulgaria and Romania), but only if German workers or established immigrants are not put at a disadvantage (Brenke, Yuksel and Zimermann, 2009, p. 4).
When it comes to the recognition of the skills and education of the immigrants, Germany is also one of the leaders. The country has made some significant steps to recognize foreign professions and qualifications quicker and approved “the introduction of a legal right to an evaluation for the approximately 350 unregulated professions (skilled professions in the dual system according to the Vocational Training Act, plus craft trades)” (European Commission, 2014, p. 11). Thus, Germany is aware of the fact of how to make the implications of the EU immigration on its society and commerce mild, while some other countries and the EU in general are still looking for the best ways to control the immigrants.
Not all states successfully cope with the immigration flows and see only positive consequences for commerce and society in them. “Yet despite the escalating human toll, the European Union’s collective response to its current migrant influx has been ad hoc and, critics charge, more focused on securing the bloc’s borders than on protecting the rights of migrants and refugees” (Park, 2015, para.1). Hurd (2015) considers Sweden to be an example of the EU country, the immigrant policy of which appeared to be a failure. Sweden is accepting the greatest number of migrants and immigrants among all other EU countries. This resulted in a fact that “Segregation and unemployment among migrants remain high. Predominantly migrant gangs have developed a habit recently of throwing hand grenades at each other during street battles” (Hurd, 2015, para. 9). Edelen (2015) insists that Europe will experience only negative implications of the problem until it continues ignoring the main reasons of such an active migration. She considers the cases of the active immigrants’ movement through the Mediterranean routes. These immigrants are coming to the EU because of the military and political conflicts. Edelen (2015) names such countries as Syria and Libya, the citizens of which look for asylums in the EU countries and become refugees. The author states that the only military solution for protecting the borders from the illegal immigrants creates problems for those who officially have the right to protection, which leads to some new problems in regard of the EU immigrants: “the EU has inadvertently given life to a parallel smuggling economy and has necessitated migrants’ reliance on smugglers and their nefarious networks, enhancing smugglers’ strength and reach.” (Edelen, 2015, para. 6). Edelen (2015) offers another solution to the problem and states that an international community should help and get involved in the humanitarian crisis in Syria and political destabilization in Libya in order to create normal conditions for people to stay there.
The article by Barrigazzi (2015) is also an interesting material to consider in the course of investigating the EU immigration problem and its implications for commerce and society. The author states that Europe just cannot manage the immigration flows and cannot objectively evaluate their influence. Moreover, he proves that the EU countries are the ones to blame for making the problem so urgent “the migration problem has been getting steadily worse since April, when it was already deemed worthy of an emergency EU summit” (Barigazzi, 2015, para. 4). Europe does not have a leader assigned to solve the issue, and some countries, such as Sweden and Denmark, have a very strong anti-immigration movement that does not give a chance to take any loyal decisions about the issue of immigration (Barigazzi, 2015). Therefore, the problem passes the limits of the labor markets and enters the social and economic levels of the countries that are most popular for immigration.
To sum it up, some positive implications of the active EU migrations on the society and commerce of the countries include: (1) the flow of new relatively young professionals, which is important as the working age of the European population is projected to decline (European Commission, 2014); (2) “internal labor mobility could make a significant contribution to overall employment growth” (European commission, 2014, p. 6); (3) the development and recognition of the professionals skills of the immigrants and their children who are born and raised abroad and additional tax payers greatly contribute to the development of the economy; (4) cultural diversification due to the cultural mix (European commission, 2014). However, these factors cannot work by themselves. In order for the EU labor markets to benefit from the immigrants, they should provide all the necessary legal information for the immigrants as to working in a certain country, promote learning the European languages, organize training courses and ensure the equality of native citizens and immigrants while applying for a position (European Commission, 2014).
It is not possible to omit the negative sides of the immigration, which have some connection with all spheres of life of the receiving countries. To generalize the situation with the military and political conflicts in Syria and Libya correspondingly, it is worth concluding that the main issue here is differentiation between migrants, those, who look for asylum and refugees. As it was mentioned above, migrants move to another country to seek better life and “the word ‘refugee’ describes someone fleeing war, persecution, or natural disasters” (Open Society Foundations, 2015, para. 2). If refugees want to have some legal rights, they can officially apply for asylum in the country where they stay. Hatton (2012) stresses that in the last two decades, more than 6 million refugees asked for asylum in the EU. The EU has worked hard to create some single regulations for asylum seekers and make these procedures as simple as possible for them. However, these regulations are not properly implemented by many European countries and there is a great number of asylum failures: “The pattern of asylum applications remains highly unbalanced between countries, something that existing policies have failed to address” (Hatton, 2012, p. 25). Not all refugees who escape from war actions or poverty apply for official asylum and want to be officially employed. This negative aspect of the EU immigration can also be solved in case the refugees and asylum seekers are properly controlled and the international community takes all actions to improve the conditions of their living in the territory of their native countries.
Conclusions and Recommendations
To conclude, it is important to note that the formation of the EU was a great driver for the massive immigration. It is not possible to destroy the EU, but it is reasonable to seek some effective means to control the migrations. This purpose can be reached by the common actions of the sending countries, receiving states and the international community. If the countries that exist in poverty or at war receive some financial help, and developed European countries have a well-functioning system for the naturalization of the immigrants and controlling the refugees, immigration flows can become productive for the commerce and society of the receiving and host countries.