Excerpt: The UK of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

Winner in the process of
structural change

 

When, on May 1, 2004, the European Union was enlarged
to include ten new countries, the British government
anticipated a maximum of 13,000 immigrants per
year from eastern Europe. This assumption was based
on a estimate by the European Commission, according
to which the old member states might expect a total of
70,000 to 150.000 migrants from the newly acceded
member countries. The Commission based its estimate
on the EU accession of Spain and Portugal in 1986,
which did not trigger any major migration flows.

 

But things turned out differently. For one thing, along
with Sweden, Ireland and the UK were the only European
countries to open their borders without restrictions
for immigrants from eastern Europe. And second,
the prosperity gap between region of origin and region
of destination was far larger than it was in the case of
the 1986 EU accession round. While at that time Spain’s
per capita GDP was 73 per cent of the UK’s, in 2004
Poland’s level of economic performance was no more
than 41 per cent of the UK’s.2 And if people can earn
more money as taxi drivers abroad than as academically
trained professionally at home, emigration is attractive
for just about everyone.

 

(...)

 

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