Migrant Crisis …Inner Migrant Crisis

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Text: Žikica Milošević

Yes, in a James Bond manner. When we mention the migrant crisis we all think about painful scenes from the Middle East; about Afghani, Pakistani or African migrants heading to Europe under inhuman conditions. But we are forgetting another migrant crisis: the flood of (predominantly) young people from Eastern Europe (including Eastern EU members) to Western Europe, the UK, Iceland and Norway… a flood of 20 million and counting.

And the scariest part is that these people are not coming from devastated countries or failed states, but from fresh EU members. And they have no intention of returning home. Of course, there are Spaniards in Poland too, but the number of Poles and Lithuanians in the UK and elsewhere is so high that it supposedly played a role in the Brexit decision. Another problem is that the brain drain has had a severe negative impact on economic growth in the Eastern EU, as well as its demographic structure. It was of great benefit to the West, but disastrous for the East. Unless we count the “falling unemployment rate”, which is something that many governments brag about. In order to stop it we need a Pan-European initiative from Brussels. My invention? No! That’s according to an IMF report.

After 2004 and the “Eastern explosion”, prospects were jolly, although professor Aaron Clauset, from the University of Colorado, estimated that the 10 Eastern EU members would have been better off staying out of the EU! And this is something that many people in Hungary, Poland, and especially Slovenia, are well aware of, but firm pro-West ideas still prevailed.

FACTS AND FIGURES

And now for the facts and figures… From West to East, since 2004, only 0.5% of economic migrants have headed to Poland, Czechia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The vast majority of people, 70%, went westwards to Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the UK. The fact is that one in 30 Lithuanians, one in 60 Poles and one in 200 Hungarians lives in the UK. “It is time for Romania to become a full member of the EU, and a second-tier member, fuelling the rage of Romanians”, said Calin Popescu, President of the Romanian Senate, to the EC. And with a multi-speed Europe, or whatever it may be called, it is highly unlikely for the European Union to be unified any time soon. Let us examine some scary facts. Bulgaria’s population has fallen from a peak of 9,009,018 in 1989 (this was bad Socialism, right?) and since 2001 it has lost another 600,000 people, according to the preliminary figures of the 2011 census, to go from no more than 7.3 million down to 7,245,000. This represents a 24.3% decrease in total population since the peak, and a -0.82% annual rate of population growth in the last 10 years. Bulgaria and Latvia are the only countries in the world to have lower populations today than 1950. When Latvia split from the Soviet Union it had a population of 2,666,567, which was close to its peak population. The latest census recorded a population of 2,067,887 in 2011, while state statistics reported an estimate of 1,986,086 for 2015. This represents a fall of 25.5%. Lithuania experienced a 23.8% decline since its peak census figure of 1989, and has lost a further 13.7% since 2001. According to the last Soviet census of 1989, Georgia had a population of 5,400,841, while state statistics reported an estimated population of 4,010,000 for the 2014 census, which includes estimated numbers for the quasi-independent regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. This represents a decline of 25.7% since the peak census figure, but nevertheless remains somewhat higher than the 1950 population. Ukraine has a population that is around 20% lower than in 1993 etc. And who was doing better off? Funnily enough, Belarus, Serbia, Hungary, with “only” a 7% decrease, Croatian, with 8%, and Russia, with only a 4% decrease. And Russia is also the only country in Eastern Europe to reverse its population decline.

We know that many people aren’t among us anymore. The West is benefitting from the “new blood” and we certainly are not. That has even been noted by the infamously insensitive IMF. And it will continue, now perhaps not towards the UK, but somewhere else for sure…Germany perhaps? It seems that these days everybody on the street is talking about moving to Germany. There is a joke: two Serbian doctors meet on the street. The first says: Guten Tag! The other replies: Guten Tag!

How good can it be for the millions of young Ukrainians who received the opportunity for visa-free travel? Or Georgians, Serbs, Macedonians? Well, Serbian people are emigrating more than ever. One day the only workforce will really be those who assemble electrical appliances for 200 euros a month. But at least the unemployment rate will be quite low, because there will be no people – just like in Bulgaria or Latvia; this time for real.

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