POLITICO: EU Free Movement Drains Little Latvia of One-Fifth of Its Population

Latvia
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RIGA (POLITICO) — Atis Sjanits has an unusual remit for an ambassador. The Latvian diplomat is not responsible for relations with another nation — but with his own country’s diaspora.

Sjanits’ job is to respond to the exodus triggered by Latvia’s accession to the EU. Since joining the bloc, nearly a fifth of the nation has left to work in more affluent EU nations: The UK, Ireland, Germany.

In 2000, Latvia’s population stood at 2.38 million. At the start of this year, it was 1.95 million. No other country has had a more precipitous fall in population — 18.2 percent according to U.N. statistics. Only Latvia’s similarly fast-shrivelling neighbour, Lithuania, with a 17.5 percent decrease, and Georgia, with a 17.2 percent drop, come close.

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