The Polish plumber comes on 1 May
Germany and Austria opened their labour markets to East Europeans
30 April, 2011
As of 1 May workers from eight Central and East European countries that joined the EU in 2004 - Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, were granted the right to work in Germany and Austria. For Bulgaria and Romania, which joined the EU in 2007, the transitional period will last until the end of 2013. The two German-speaking countries put off opening their borders to east European workers until the last possible minute, but the move has finally established a single EU labour market, allowing labour resources to transfer more smoothly among Member States.Speaking at a labour market conference in Budapest, Laszlo Andor, EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion welcomed the end of the transitional period. "The removal of these final obstacles for workers from the EU-8 is a great opportunity for each individual but also for the EU as a whole. Mobility is a key driver for employment growth and in countries like Germany and Austria it will help fill serious skills gaps and job vacancies", EC press office quoted Andor as saying.The European Commission expects that the opening of labour markets from 1 May on will lead to tangible immigration. "We expect that following the opening of the labour market in Germany over the next four years approximately 100,000 workers per year will arrive there. Approximately half of them will be from Poland," Commissioner Laszlo Andor explained in an interview for Die Welt. The coming of central and east European workers will help reduce labour shortages in key industrial sectors and industries in the services sector, the Commissioner said. Furthermore, according to him, the work on the black market and the seeming independence will decrease. "All this will lead to more prosperity and further 0.3% yearly economic growth in Germany," Andor said.As a result, many Poles, Czechs and Hungarians are in no hurry to rush in because they have already had ample time to try their luck in the West, said Klaus Zimmermann, head of the Institute for the Study of Labour in the western German city of Bonn.Polish Labour Minister Jolanta Fedak said that Warsaw "does not expect an exodus", a prediction shared by her counterparts in Budapest, Ljubljana and Prague, quoted by AP.Joachim Moeller, director of the IAB research institute at Germany's Federal Labour Agency, speaking for AP said it was difficult to estimate how many east Europeans were now working off the books. But he said that he expected between 100,000 and 140,000 new arrivals each year in the short term with a drop-off expected after that. In the same period, the government estimates 200,000 German employees will leave the labour market annually. In Austria, the Labour Ministry is counting on between 40,000 and 50,000 people in the next two years.Commissioner Laszlo Andor does not expect a major impact of immigration on the development of wages and unemployment. "Much more important is that GDP growth will increase due to immigration and consequently new jobs may arise.
Commissioner Laszlo Andor welcomed the end of the transitional period.