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East-West migration in the EU: Towards what kind of labour market? Guglielmo Meardi ‘East meets West’ ESRC seminar London, 6 th November 2009.

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Presentation on theme: "East-West migration in the EU: Towards what kind of labour market? Guglielmo Meardi ‘East meets West’ ESRC seminar London, 6 th November 2009."— Presentation transcript:

1 East-West migration in the EU: Towards what kind of labour market? Guglielmo Meardi ‘East meets West’ ESRC seminar London, 6 th November 2009

2 Context: East Social failures of EU integration, despite economic and geopolitical successes: – Workers as ‘losers’ in relative and sometimes absolute terms – Strong dissatisfaction with working conditions (EWCS, qualitative research) – Extreme marketization – Residual legacy welfare state does not protect today’s workforce – Continuous weakening of unions, faster than in EU15 – Perverse transfer of the ‘social acquis’ – Increased social pressure stemming from competition for FDI, Maastricht – Disappointment with EU promise, populism Do you remember? ‘most people were ‘better off’, but they had suffered and continued to suffer this slight improvement as a catastrophic experience’ (E.P. Thompson, The Making of the English Working Class, 1966, p212)

3 Poverty risk by age (Eurostat)

4 Context: West EU’s ‘almost desperate structural need, in both demographic and labour force terms, for increased intra-European population movements’ (Favell 2008) 20 years of admiration for US growth, which has been driven by immigration 10 years of longing for flexicurity, but reforms are politically costly (Germany, Italy, France) Migrants as the solution?

5 Pros and cons… Pros: Adaptability, mobility, long hours, sensitive to $/€ Less sensitive to prestige They don’t vote NMS additional pros: White and Christian Extremely high activity rate (78% vs 67%) Extreme mobility: they go home when not needed Cons: Trilemma: migrants’ segregation / good ethnic relations / border control Need to be ‘temporary’ and replaced often Need not be integrated socially Social costs for migrants themselves (hidden suffering) NMS additional con: EU-wide migration policy? => More or less feasible for intra- EU migration?

6 The realities of intra-EU mobility All forecasts wrong: Boeri/Brücker 2000, UK Home Office: no worry, nothing new  2m, not 1m (Boeri/Brücker) arrivals in EU, 200,000/y, not 15,000/y (Home Office) in UK Sinn/Ochel 2003, Kvist 2004: threat to welfare states, ‘social raids’  Very high activity rate, very little social burden Lessons: Evidence of disregard for social factors Do not extrapolate regardless of context! New: ‘Transnationalism’, erosion of distance ‘Mobility’ rather than ‘migration’

7 Post-2004 developments EC enthusiasm (2006, 2008): complementarity, growth, tax revenue, pension funding, inflation control €€€ Race to opening in most EU countries (except A, D) following UK/Ireland success (not the bottom – another wrong forecast by Boeri/Brücker) Little effects on local wages (-0.09% if you still trust Brücker)

8 Skilled, unskilled or deskilled? LFS: 1% of EU15 workforce, but 1.9% of elementary occupations and 0.1% in skilled occupations But higher qualifications than EU average! Mechanisms of deskilling, brain waste, especially on female careers (Currie 2008)

9 Countries of origin Extreme case of ethnic minorities in Estonia, Latvia, Romania, Czech Republic – Emigration as political ‘safety valve’ (Piore 1979) – ‘Exit’ following lack of ‘voice’ for ‘grey passport’ Russian speakers of LV, EE Exit for dissatisfaction with jobs/job offers (employed and youth in search of 1 st job, not unemployed) – Eurobarometer: 59% for income, 57% for working conditions – Voting with their feet?

10 Link voice crisis – exit? Union membership change, %, Emigration, %, Union membership change (000) Emigration (000), LT SK EE BG PL LV CZ HU SI RO ,000

11 Self-reinforcing or self-defeating process? Mobility lowers unionisation (e.g. Poles in the West Midlands: 10% in PL, 3% in UK) Estimates: exit of >10% workforce in LV, LT, RO, >5% in PL, SK (EU15 cross- border mobility: 2%) Labour shortages: wage concessions, concentrated in high-emigration countries and sectors ( : +89% in SK, +60% in CZ; +118% in LV, +100% in EE; +26% in €-zone) But not related to collective bargaining (lowest coverage in the Baltic states, great wage drift) Some evidence of union regained assertiveness, but no revitalisation: Strikes in Poland (days): Political reactions: retention measures by Polish government Social costs: 110,000 ‘Euro-orphans’ in Poland, European care chain

12 An extreme case: Latvia An hyper-neoliberal vicious cycle: Most regressive social system => high mobility => non-productive investment => bubble => collapse (house prices 2009: -70%) => even more ECB- and IMF-dependent => cuts in nominal wages by 15-27% => new boost to migration (+24% into the UK in 2009, while -54% from the other NMS) => …

13 Host countries: a new spectre haunting Europe

14 UK example Bank of England, employers’ enthusiasm Government enthusiasm… until 2008 Home Office, 2006: ‘the more favourable work ethic of migrant workers had the effect of encouraging domestic workers to work harder’ Only 5% of NMS workers apply for child benefits, <1% for unemployment benefits Little effect on wages, unemployment, but growing ‘fear of unemployment’ 39% find job via agencies (UK nationals: 3%) 53% temporary contracts (UK nationals: 6%) Interviews: migrants decisively negative view of TWAs Biggest disruptions from movement of services, posted workers

15 UK-Germany parallel paths UK Open borders Liberal labour market  TWA  Temporary contracts  Residual welfare and pressure to leave as soon as unemployed  high employment rate  5,000 (?) posted workers Germany Closed borders Corporatist, unevenly covered labour market  Less employment migration  Seasonal work programs  Very high self-employment, also in factories, agriculture, care  22,500 NMS-owned companies set up in  133,000 posted workers, also within factories  Extreme, hard to control cases of exploitation

16 Crisis Concentration in the most affected sectors (construction, manufacturing, travel-related services) Eurostat: unemployment up more among non-EU nationals (+2%) than EU nationals (+0.5%) in 4Q 2008 Ireland again an emigration country, but ‘any sad new song should be in Polish’ (Irish Independent): -30,100 NMS citizens in a year – NMS’ citizens in Ireland: 6% of workforce, 24% of job losses (Central Statistics Office, 2009)

17 Transnational answers? Ineffective EU-wide union policy Some cross-border union cooperation (in UK, Ireland as well as Germany, Austria) Cooperation (if difficult) against ‘Bolkestein Directive’ Interregional Trade Union Councils

18 Conclusion ‘Exit’ as typical market behaviour and response to liberal project and socio-political failure (‘voice’) in NMS and at EU-level Ambivalent link between exit and voice: alternative in the short term, but oscillating historically Intra-EU mobility: quasi-solution to the trilemma, but crisis and ‘voice’ disrupt it


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