2014 -Welcome to migrant workers from Romania and Bulgaria!
January 1st 2014 sees EU member states welcome fellow European workers from Bulgaria and Romania, who are now allowed to travel to work throughout all Union countries.
Although nationally, in the UK and also in the Netherlands, there has been much hostile press towards this pending new influx of migrants, experience with the arrival of Polish workers and their families since 2004, has shown that in the UK at least, new migrant groups from Eastern Europe have had a positive affect on the local economies that they have entered.
According to the Economist magazine, Polish migrants in the UK, are responsible for brining youth, dynamics and entrepreneurship to what before were ageing local economies, such as Southampton, on the UK's south coast. According to the article, it seems that across the spectrum, Polish migrants have possibly contributed to higher achievements in schools, that they are less likely to use national health services on a regular basis, and that this group, by now the second largest migrant group in the UK are now more likely to be working in higher skilled jobs, or starting their own businesses. To be fair, the article mentions that according to research, the UK seems to have enjoyed a more highly educated Polish immigrant than, for instance Germany.
In the Netherlands, although the far right is naturally making a commotion about the Dutch population being in fear of a 'crime wave caused migrant Bulgarians and Romanians' the general line of thought is that most of these immigrants will be essentially put off by the difficulty (for them) of the Dutch language, which is essential for lower skilled workers in the Netherlands. According to a Romainian government spokesman, quoted earlier this autumn in the Volkskrant newspaper, many Romanian migrants will seek employment in the Latin language based speaking countries, such as Italy or Spain.
The Dutch government does however worry about the continuing abuse of East European migrants by unscrupulous 'employers' who pay 'black' wages, far below the minimum wage to workers who are then left outside any regulation or social safety net, including health insurance.
Netherlands ministers say that they are doing everything they can to attract highly skill and educated young Romanian and Bulgarian workers, as these are good for the economy. Whether they will succeed, competing with the UK, where English is the language and where local communities have proven that East European migrants are generally accepted, remains to be seen.
It might be a good idea to start by attracting and welcoming Bachelor undergraduate students from these countries, in the same numbers as the Netherlands attract Germans... maybe then our new East European migrants would be more likely to stay, maybe work and continue with Master studies, and help further build the Dutch economy, in the same way as they are seemingly doing in the UK.