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Economic Integration and Migration: Austria, the Slovak Republic and the EU

Economic Integration and Migration:
Austria, the Slovak Republic and the EU
Philip Martin and Michael Teitelbaum
April 29-May 1, 2004


The 12th Migration Dialogue seminar was held April 29-May 1, 2004 in Vienna and Bratislava. Its focus was migration in the heart of Europe, specifically the impacts of EU enlargement, recent changes in Austrian immigration and integration policy, and migration issues in the Slovak Republic. Migration Dialogue seminars provide an opportunity for European and American opinion leaders to learn about migration issues in concrete settings.

There is a 6:1 difference in per capita income between Austria and the Slovak Republic, but relatively little labor migration. After May 1, 2004, borders between these formerly distant neighbors became more permeable, as Slovaks are able to travel to Austria without passports, but they cannot work unless their employers obtain work permits on their behalf.

There was discussion of three major issues:
Freedom of movement is a cornerstone of the EU. Yet there are growing fears of too much migration and incomplete integration of foreigners. These concerns are manifested in significant support for anti-migration political parties, new laws that require non-EU immigrants to sign "integration contracts" that require them to learn the local language or risk expulsion, and streamlined asylum procedures to deal with the fact that less than a quarter of foreigners seeking asylum are deemed in need of refuge.
About 9 percent of the 8 million residents of Austria are foreigners, most from the ex-Yugoslavia and Turkey, countries from which guest workers were recruited during the 1960s and early 1970s. Their integration can be seen as a glass half-full or half-empty. On the one hand, many second and third generation children of guest workers are becoming indistinguishable from Austrians on the labor market, including becoming naturalized Austrian citizens. Yet the unemployment rate among foreign workers is 1.5 times the Austrian rate, prompting efforts to require non-EU foreigners to take active steps to make themselves more employable, such as learning German.
The Slovak Republic dates from the break-up of Czechoslovakia in 1993. Its economy, based on heavy industry such as steel, has an unemployment rate of 15 percent, but the western part of the country near Vienna has emerged as a favorite place for foreign auto makers, promising economic improvement. Members of the longstanding minority group known as "Gypsies" or "Roma" are concentrated in the economically-lagging eastern regions of the country and have very high unemployment rates; in January 2004 there were violent protests about changes to the unemployment insurance system that reduced payments.
European Migration Issues
The European Union increasingly resembles the US in considering itself an "unfinished nation" shaped and reshaped by immigration. However, there is far less agreement as to the desirability of the kind of immigration that transforms cultures and societies. Most EU political leaders consider more immigration inevitable, but surveys suggest that most European citizens want immigration reduced. This division of opinion promises increased tension about migration as the EU assumes more authority to coordinate national migration policies.

Most of the economically motivated migration within and to Europe after World War II reflected rural-urban migration within countries, and movements between colonies and home countries, such as between Algeria and France or India and Pakistan and the UK (Castles and Miller, 2003). Faster postwar recovery in northern Europe prompted the recruitment of guest workers from southern Europe, where economic and job growth was slower. Government leaders asserted that Yugoslav and Turkish workers would rotate in and out of the country, returning home after a year or two and be replaced by countrymen if guest workers were still needed. In reality, however, guest workers were probationary immigrants, entitled to unify their families if their employers requested that their initial work and residence permits be renewed. Many did in fact stay and unify their families in their new countries of residence, producing populations and labor forces that today include 5 to 10 percent foreigners.

As the EU acquired more powers vis-à-vis member states, and as countries such as France and Germany realized they could not solve all migration issues within their borders, authority over migration policy began to shift to the EU (Martin and Widgren, 2002). Four cities lent their names to agreements that symbolize the growing authority of the EU in migration matters. In 1985, several EU countries meeting in Schengen, Luxembourg agreed to develop a common list of countries whose nationals would require visas and inspect arrivals for each other so that there would be no more border controls between France and Germany or Portugal and Spain—border control agents would share the same data base, the Schengen Information System, to determine who was to be refused entry to all Schengen member countries. Today, "Schengen" has become an anchor of EU cooperation on migration management, with all new EU entrants required to adhere to Schengen standards, which required significantly more border agents and upgrading of their equipment and infrastructure.

The Maastricht Treaty, signed in a Dutch city in 1991, created an EU citizenship, paved the way for EU nationals to live, work and vote in local elections in any EU nation. The Amsterdam Treaty, which went into effect in 1999, commits the EU to develop a common immigration and asylum policy by 2004. Developing a common asylum police has taken more time than expected. The Dublin Convention of 1990 required foreigners seeking asylum to apply in the first EU country they reached. The goal was to prevent migrants from traveling by boat to Greece or Italy, which provide few benefits to asylum seekers, and then traveling north to Germany or Scandinavia, where benefits for asylum seekers are better. However, it took until 2004 for eight EU nations--Ireland, Denmark, Belgium, Finland, Spain, Sweden, Britain and Portugal—to enact common minimum rules for acquiring refugee status and procedures for processing asylum requests, and there are still problems with convincing EU countries to accept the return of asylum applicants who passed through them.

The EU's growing role in managing migration rests on the third of the three pillars of the Maastricht Treaty. The EU takes the lead in promoting economic integration under the rubric of completing the internal market. While member states remain in control of their foreign policies, there is to be ever-closer cooperation in justice and home affairs, which includes cooperation on immigration and asylum issues. The debate is over how much leaders of the EU should control debate and policy about immigration, especially since they are not elected and since many of them tend to favor increased immigration. The Commissioner for Justice and Home Affairs, Antonio Vitorino, for example, asserted that "the zero immigration policies of the past 25 years are not working [and urged] new legal ways for immigrants to enter the EU." Vitorino, like many other EU leaders, look at low fertility rates and say that the EU must accept immigrants to prevent population decline. However, most Europeans oppose increased immigration, which sets the stage for anti-immigrant parties to make strong showings, especially in elections for the European Parliament, the EU's legislative body (Cornelius et al, 2004).

The country in the spotlight in 2004 is Turkey, a country of 73 million that is projected to be the most populous if it were to have been admitted to the EU by 2015, when a sixth of EU nationals would be Turks (Teitelbaum and Martin, 2003). There are about 4 million Turks currently resident in EU nations, and the Turkish government is pressing for official Turkish entry to the EU. Turkey is different from other current and prospective EU members in many ways: its capital and 95 percent of its residents are in Asia, most Turks are Muslims, and Turkey is the poorest country on the list of potential entrants. Turks demonstrated in the 1960s and 1970s that they were eager to migrate to Germany and other European countries, but their mixed success at integration causes many Europeans to worry about another wave of what they fear might be hard-to-integrate Turks. The EU has said that if Turkey fulfills the so-called Copenhagen criteria on human rights and democracy by the end of 2004, accession talks can begin. On the one hand, Turkey has moved faster than many expected toward more democracy and respect for human rights, but on the other, many EU countries fear a migration surge and see obstacles to closer integration with Turkey in the EU.
Migration Issues in Austria
Austria recruited guest workers from Yugoslavia and Turkey after reaching full employment in 1962. Like other European states with guest worker policies then, Austria halted guest worker recruitment in the 1970s, and dealt with family unification among settled guest workers, asylum seekers, and east-west migration in the 1980s and 1990s. Austria's economic recovery lagged behind its neighbors, so that even in the 1960s, there were almost as many emigrants from Austria to neighboring Germany and Switzerland, and Austria was a major transit country for migrants and refugees headed west.

The net migration of foreigners into Austria peaked at 90,000 a year in the early 1990s, and was 24,000 in 2001 (OECD). Austria has about 7.4 million Austrian citizens and 760,000 foreigners, and 20 percent of the foreigners were born in Austria. Both the Austrian citizen and foreign populations are growing slowly. There are about 7,500 more deaths than births among Austrians each year, and 6,000 Austrians emigrate, but 35,000 foreigners a year naturalize, of which 60 percent are from ex-Yugoslavia and Turkey.

The 330,000 foreigners employed in Austria in 2001 represented 10.5 percent of total employment. Half of the foreign workers were from the ex-Yugoslavia, 20 percent were Turks and 11 percent were EU nationals, mostly Germans. Some 111,000 work permits were issued to foreigners in 2001. In mid-2002, Austria expanded options for non-EU nationals from new accession countries such as the Slovak Republic to be employed for up to 12 months in non-seasonal industries in Austria, after which the worker is to return home for at least two months. Foreign students were also given permission to work part time. Austria also exports workers--75,000 Austrians were employed in Germany in 2002 (about 85 percent of total Austrians working outside Austria).

Immigration is subject to an annual quota, 8,050 in 2004, and the two major streams of newcomers are further categorized into key employees (2,200) and family reunification (5,500), with sub-quotas for each of Austria's nine provinces. There are no numerical limits on asylum, and the number of asylum-seekers has risen sharply; in 2003, Austria received more asylum applications per capita than any other country. There were 30,100 applications in 2001, 39,400 in 2002, and 32,400 in 2003. After applying, applicants are sent to centers, where they receive accommodation and food. One of the largest centers is in Traiskirchen, and has been operated by the German firm European Homecare since mid-2003 at a cost of € 12.90 per person per day. Many of the center's current residents are from Chechnya, and their complaints center on the activities of foreigners who are not camp residents but would like to be--these non-residents sometimes "buy" food and beds from camp guards and cooks.

Foreigners apply for asylum at federal asylum offices, which make a first decision; if it is negative, as 80 percent of first decisions are, the applicant can appeal to the independent federal asylum board. Many denials of asylum are so appealed, sometimes by NGOs that do not show the appeal to the applicant—the applicant gives the NGO power of attorney, and the NGO files the appeal on his or her behalf. When the oral appeal is heard, a judge, transcriber, and interpreter are present, as is the applicant. Concerns have been expressed that in at least some cases, the applicant is simply seeking to extend his stay in Austria by appealing.

Asylum laws were changed effective May 1, 2004 to require an initial interview with asylum applicants within 72 hours of their application in order to determine if the applicant is ineligible for asylum, as would be the case if he/she transited a safe third country en route to Austria or applied previously in Austria or another EU country. If there are such grounds for denying asylum, a denial is to be made within 20 days to facilitate an appeal and removal, and to reduce a common practice of applying for asylum in Austria and then continuing further west, abandoning their Austrian applications.

Immigration and integration have been controversial in Austria, with Joerg Haider and the Freedom Party leading the campaign against more foreigners. National support for the Freedom Party dropped from 30 percent in 2002 to 10 percent in 2004, but Haider was re-elected governor of Carinthia in March 2004. Vienna, a city of 1.6 million, has about half of Austria's foreigners, and has a city government that welcomes immigrants with a letter in their own language and offers German language courses paid for by the city government.
Slovak Migration, Roma and Economic Issues
The Slovak Republic has experienced robust economic growth (since ??), but the unemployment rate remained at 16 percent in 2004. There is relatively little emigration and immigration; most of the movement that occurs is between the Czech and Slovak Republics, where there is free movement. Some 64,000 Slovak workers were registered as employed in the Czech Republic in 2001, 17,000 in Germany, and 5,000 in Austria.

The Slovak Republic received 8,100 asylum applications in 2001; 5,000 were administratively terminated rather than refused, and 18 foreigners received asylum—most asylum applications are "defensive," i.e. filed after the foreigner has been apprehended. New asylum laws in 2002 brought Slovak law and procedures into conformity with EU laws.

Illegal migrants tend to enter the Slovak Republic over the Ukrainian border in the east of the country, and to exit via the Czech and Austrian borders, making the Slovak Republic largely a transit country. Of the 12,500 migrants apprehended for illegally crossing the Slovak border in 2003, 5,500 were apprehended upon entering the country from Ukraine and 4,000 and 2,000 for leaving the country in the direction of Austria and the Czech Republic, respectively.

In 2002, new migration laws defined three types of foreigners: "tolerated" residents for up to six months, temporary residents for one to three years for work or study, and permanent residents for three years followed by unlimited residence. There are about 30,000 foreign residents of the Slovak Republic and, in a remarkable decade-long change, border controls in new EU member states such as the Slovak Republic have been transformed from keeping citizens in to keeping foreigners out.

About 400,000 or eight percent of Slovaks are Roma or Gypsies, and they are considered a poor and non-integrated minority in the eastern and poorer part of the country. In 1999-00, the government announced new measures aimed at reducing discrimination and promoting economic development in areas with Roma, including easing access to education for Roma children (who are often sent to special schools), improving living conditions by building 1,000 new apartments, and reducing long-term unemployment.

In January 2004, Slovak Roma protested cuts in welfare benefits that reduced payments from about the minimum wage of $400 a month to $200 a month. The overall unemployment rate is 30 percent in some eastern districts, and even higher in Roma settlements, and there was looting of stores. The center-right government of Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda said the looting was organized by Roma loan sharks who had made a profitable business of lending money to Roma families that were repaid when they received welfare payments.

The Slovak Republic had a closely watched election in April 2004 in which moderate Ivan Gasparovic defeated Vladimir Meciar, the former prime minister who had led Slovakia to insist upon separation from the Czech Republic in 1993. The current Czech president, Vaclav Klaus, was the prime minister with whom Meciar negotiated the Czechoslovakian divorce.

Slovakia has attracted major inflows of foreign investment, in part because it reduced its corporate and personal income tax rates to 19 percent. Western Slovakia is sometimes called the Detroit of Eastern Europe, with Peugeot and the Hyundai's Kia Motors unit building auto assembly plants near Bratislava. Volkswagen already has a plant employing 10,000 workers to produce 300,000 cars a year, and when all three firms are operating at capacity, Slovakia could assemble 850,000 cars a year. Slovakian wages and benefits are only 25 to 35 percent of those in western Europe (labor represents 10 to 15 percent of the cost of auto manufacturing), and the incentives offered to foreign investors include free land, worker training and reduced taxes.
The EU continues to move closer toward a common immigration policy, but the impetus for coordination has changed from the asylum crisis of the early 1990s to EU enlargement early in the 21st century. There is an apparent split between EU leaders who argue that immigration is necessary and inevitable to stabilize populations and the economy of the welfare state, and voters who seem to prefer less rather than more immigration. Asylum remains a flashpoint even though the number of applicants has been reduced in most countries. Most of those who apply are found to be not in need of protection, but are still difficult to return to their countries of origin.

Austria has about 9 percent foreign residents, a result as in many other European countries of earlier policies that recruited guest workers who settled. Success at integration of these "foreigners", mostly Turks and Yugoslavs and their children, has been mixed. The Austrian government reacted to high unemployment rates by requiring non-EU foreigners to sign contracts to learn German, which should make them more employable on the labor market. In recent years, Austria has experienced Europe's highest per capita intake of asylum applicants, and in 2004 implemented new policies aimed at making quick decisions and removing foreigners not in need of protection.

The Slovak Republic is primarily a country through which migrants from other countries transit, and this is not expected to change as a result of it joining the EU on May 1, 2004. Western areas of the Slovak Republic are the richest, and the destination of foreign investment that is creating relatively high-wage jobs in the Detroit of central Europe. More problematic is the eastern part of the country, where the Roma are concentrated, and the Slovak government intends to tackle their problems with new assistance programs.
Castles, Stephen and Mark Miller. 2003. The Age of Migration. International Population Movements in the Modern World. New York. Palgrave.

Cornelius, Wayne A., Takeyuki Tsuda, Philip L. Martin, and James F. Hollifield. Eds. 2004. Controlling Immigration. A Global Perspective Stanford University Press

Jandl, M. and Kraler, A. 2003. Austria: A Country of Immigration? Migration Information Source, March.

Martin, Philip and Jonas Widgren. 2002. International Migration: Facing the Challenge. Washington D.C: Population Reference Bureau. Population Bulletin Vol 57, No 1. March..

OECD. Annual. Trends in International Migration (SOPEMI). Paris. OCED.

Teitelbaum Michael S. and Philip L. Martin. 2003. Is Turkey Ready for Europe? Foreign Affairs. Vol. 82, No 3. May/June. Pp97-111.

Migration in Central Europe:
Austria, the Slovak Republic and the EU
April 29-May 1, 2004
Meeting: Spiegalsaal, Haus des Sports, Prinz Eugen Str 12
Lodging #1: Best Western Erzherzog Rainer Hotel
Corner of Wiedner Hauptstr. 27-29/ Mozartgasse 4
Tel 43-1-501 110; email--
Lodging #2: Clima City Hotel
Theresianumgasse 21a A 1040 Wien 4
Tel. + 43 1 5051696 Fax + 43 1 5043552

Sponsored by: Migration Dialogue with the support of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and the International Center for Migration Policy Development
Wednesday, April 28, 2004 Arrival Day in Vienna (VIE). 7:30-9:30PM Informal dinner, Wieden Braeu, Waaggasse 5, tel 586 0 300
Thursday, April 29, 2004 Background briefings
6:30-9AM Breakfast

9AM Meeting
Welcome and Introductions: Philip Martin, University of California, Davis

9:15AM Migration, Integration, and EU Expansion
Jonas Widgren, ICMPD
Anita Gradin, former-EU Commissioner

10:30AM Break

10:45AM Immigration and Integration Issues in Austria and Slovakia
Gudrun Biffl, Austrian Institute of Economic Research
Christian Filzwieser, Federal Asylum Office
Rahela Dosen, Pre-accession advisor to Slovak Republic
Andrej Trencansky, Office of Aliens and Border Police, Slovak Ministry of Interior

12:30PM Lunch

2PM Migration, Borders, and Other Issues
Chair: Michael Teitelbaum, Sloan Foundation

East-West Migration, Elmar Honekopp, IAB, Germany and Michael Jandl, ICMPD
Berndt Koerner, Deputy Director, Department for Aliens Police and Border Control
Mr. Tempelmayer, Vienna City Council

3:15PM Break

3:30PM Discussion

5PM Adjourn

7PM Reception and Dinner, Das Triest restaurant, Wiedner Hauptstrasse 12, tel 43 (1) 58918-82
Friday, April 30, 2004 Field Trip
6:30–8:30 AM Breakfast

8:15AM (8:25 Clima) Depart by bus for Unabhaengige BundesAsylSenat-- asylum appeals process

10:45AM Depart for Siemens Building Technologies, Building Automation / HVAC Products, Breitenfurter Straße 148, A-1231 Wien tel 43-(0)5-1707-0. Tour and lunch

12:45 Depart for Kittsee, Austrian-Slovak border patrol visit

16 Depart for Vienna, with stop at Brunnenmarkt

18:30 Dinner at Kent Turkish Restaurant, Brunnengasse 67, tel 405 91 73 with community leaders including Ms. Nurten Yilmaz (SPO),
Saturday, May 1, 2004
6:30-8:30AM Breakfast

8:30AM (8:40 Clima) Depart by bus to Bratislava, city tour followed by walk in the old city

12PM Lunch Castle Vine Cellar, Námestie Alexandra Dubceka, 81101 Bratislava, tel +421 2 - 5934 1358, Pavol Demes, GMF

2PM Depart for Vienna, with stop at VIE airport by 4PM for those leaving Saturday (You can stay on your own in Bratislava, trains to Vienna's Südbahnhof depart Bratislava-Petrzalka at 16:14 and at 18:14, and take about 1 hour.

7PM Dinner for those staying in Vienna, Melker Stiftskeller,