The Migration of Poles to the European Single Market

Kundera, Jaroslaw
September 2009
Eurolimes;2009, Vol. 8, p100
Academic Journal
After accession to the EU, we observed strong wave of emigration of Polish workers to the EU partners. Polish emigration rose from about 1 million before accession to a peak of 2.2- 2.5 million emigrants. The EU member states, which were among the most important destinations for Polish emigrants, included: the UK (690 thousands), Germany (490 thousands), Ireland (200 thousands), the Netherlands (98 thousands). Contrary to the popular opinion, the Poles are not the most mobile people among the European nations: in Poland emigration represents about 2% of the working population, less than in Lithuania (3,1%), in Cyprus (3%), in Romania 2,5% and, in the long run, much less than in Portugal (9%) and in Ireland (8,2%). Polish emigrants were mainly young, energetic and well educated people, who found jobs especially in the construction sector, in agriculture, in the simple services field - in the restaurants and the hotels of the host country. The main reason for emigration was an economic one: lower wages in Poland than in the EU-15 member states and lack of jobs in Poland. Although these waves of emigration had some negative consequences upon the Polish economy (for example the brain drain in the field of medicine and computer science, while some branches of industry and services started to complain about the lack of adequate labour force on the local market), the yearly transfer of money from emigrants to their mother country was higher than 2 billion euro, and even reached 4,1 billion in 2007, which benefited the Polish economy. After the financial crisis in 2008, more and more Polish people lost their jobs abroad and began to return to Poland. Among the Polish emigrants in UK, one third declared their willingness to come back to Poland.


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