The Free Movement regime in the European Union, which requires member-states to permit unlimited and largely unvetted intra-bloc migration, has led to a significant brain drain in the bloc’s poorer countries, claims a new report.
Reporting an article in Science Advances titled ‘The negative impact of EU enlargement’, the EurActiv website said that Free Movement following the bloc’s 2004 enlargement had been a “one-way street”, with scientists and researchers flowing from poorer new members to the wealthier established ones.
EurActiv quoted the University of California’s Alexander Petersen as saying that: “In principle, [the] enlargement increased the number of researchers that could, through various European programmes, collaborate with EU partners.” – but that this had not happened in practice.
The downsides of Free Movement for relatively prosperous EU members such as Great Britain, which has seen increased strain on social infrastructure as the wages of people in working-class occupations squeezed are by a saturated labour market, have been well documented. But the downsides for the countries migrants are leaving has been less discussed.
Lithuania, for example, has lost more than 370,000 people – around half of whom have come to Britain – crashing its population to less than 2.6 million. In response, the anti-emigration Lithuanian Peasants and Greens Union (LPGU) stormed to victory in the 2016 elections, having previously returned only one representative to parliament.
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Poland has also lost millions of citizens, creating labour shortages and social problems.
Pawel Landwojtowicz, a family counsellor and priest from Opole, which has lost between 10 and 15 per cent of its population, told Reuters that “traditional, multi-generational families [have been] torn apart by emigration” from the region, “never to quite recover”.
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Amongst the EU’s older members, Greece is also suffering from the effects of mass emigration, losing approximately 35,000 highly-trained doctors to Germany alone.
“It is a huge loss of human capital whose effects will only begin to be felt in the next decade,” said Aliki Mouri, a sociologist at the National Centre for Social Research.
“People who have been educated at great cost, both to their families and the public purse, are now working in wealthier countries which have not invested in them at all.”