Germany & Austria open labour borders. What next?

Dear BEM Readers,

Last weekend was special not only because of the beatification of Pope John Paul II (you can read about it in the previous post), but also abolishment of work limitations for Eastern European „accession” countries that joined the European Union in 2004, which includes Poland, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia,Czech Republic, Slovenia, Slovakia & Hungary.

What next?

The Germans expect a major influx of workers from the above countries, some estimates say that even 500,000 workers from Poland and the neighbouring countries will start their jobs in Germany & Austria.

Let’s take a look at a possible scenarios (both positive & negative) for Poland.

The bleak scenario

  • Brain drain” – a term used to illustrate a lack of skilled workforce due to emigration. There is no question over the fact that Poland will have even less skilled workers (after the already significant border opening in the UK, Ireland and Scotland in 2004). Since the wages are more competitive in Germany, Poland has not much room for avoiding that situation.

The bright scenario

  • Transfer of capital – since there will be more employed workers (who might have not found work in Poland yet), they will be bringing back major capital, that will then go back to the Polish system (in personal products, housing, cars etc.). They will also have bigger „buying power” to invest in their kids education, buy land and participate in other social/citizen activities they might have been excluded from due to a lower financial status
  • Transfer of experience/skills – while most economists predict & fear that many workers will remain in Germany or Austria, most will be motivated to come back to Poland after collecting a larger amount of capital and might either bring back new skills & experience into the local job market, or even better start their own businesses based on the German market observations

Whether we like that or not, the influx will happen, its just a matter of time of evaluating how large it will be. Some Poles say: „Those who were likely to seek work in Germany or Austria are already there…”

Time will show how this labor market opening will affect Poland and its economy. Hopefully, it will be the bright perspective that takes charge.

If you are interested to learn more about the Poland-Germany labor market opening, you can watch this TV clip and article.

Wish you a good „arbeit” week!

Krzysztof „Chris” Dargiewicz


1. abolishment – zniesienie; abolicja

2. major  – główny; duży; znaczący

3. influx – napływ

4. estimates – dane szacunkowe

5. bleak – wyblakły; blady

6. brain drain – „drenaż mózgów

7.  not much room – małe pole do manewru/popisu

8.  to avoid – uniknąć

9. buying power – siła nabywcza (konsumencka)

10. observation – obserwacje; spostrzeżenia

11.  to evaluate – ocenić; obliczyć

12.  likely – prawdopodobnie

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