Skip to navigation

Skip to main content

Migration News

contact us

July 2011, Volume 18, Number 3

EU: A8, Economy, Policy

There were 32 million foreigners in the EU 27 countries in 2010, making foreigners about six percent of the 500 million residents. Almost all of these foreigners, 29 million or 92 percent, were in the EU 15 countries that have about 400 million residents. There are also 11 million foreign-born residents who have become naturalized citizens of EU-15 countries, meaning a total of 40 million international migrants in the EU 15 countries, where they are 10 percent of residents.

The 40 million international migrants in the US in 2010 are almost 14 percent of the 310 million US residents. These migrants include 15 million naturalized US citizens, 14 million legal immigrants and temporary visitors, and 11 million unauthorized foreigners. There are far fewer unauthorized foreigners in the EU 15 countries than in the United States.

A8. On May 1, 2011, nationals of the so-called A8 countries that joined the EU in 2004 received freedom of movement rights, meaning that they can henceforth move to another EU country and seek work on an equal basis with local workers. The most significant impacts are expected in the old EU-15 countries that delayed freedom of movement by A-8 nationals for the maximum allowable seven years, including Germany and Austria.

Germany had 580,000 A8 nationals at the end of 2009, including 419,000 Poles (the UK had 550,000 Poles at the end of 2009). In Germany, almost a third of women from A8 countries are employed in health and caring professions, while a third of A8 male migrants in Germany are employed in manufacturing and construction.

The consensus estimate is that another 140,000 A8 nationals a year may now move to Germany, doubling the stock of A8 nationals in Germany to 1.3 million by 2020, this despite the fact that wages have risen in Eastern Europe over the past decade. Average wages of E5 an hour in Poland are expected to reduce incentives to migrate to Germany, where many A8 nationals earn E8 to E10 an hour. However, German unions expressed fears that more A8 migrants may slow wage increases.

Ireland, Sweden and the UK opened their labor markets to A8 nationals immediately in 2004, and most Southern European nations followed in 2006. Bulgaria and Romania are not members of the Schengen area and their citizens do not have freedom of movement rights within the EU. Bulgarians and Romanians may travel to other EU-member nations without visas, but cannot work in other EU-member nations unless they obtain work permits.

The EU in April 2011 called on its 27-member nations to take steps to integrate the 10 to 12 million Roma concentrated in Eastern Europe. Roma are five to 10 percent of residents in Bulgaria, Slovakia, Romania and Hungary.