Europe s eastern borders migration from an economic and geographic periphery
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Europe’s Eastern Borders: Migration from an Economic and Geographic Periphery?. I G Shuttleworth School of Geography, Archaeology and Paleoecology QUB. Outline. Earlier migrations from the East – a biographical note from Poland The paradoxes of contemporary labour migration

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Europe’s Eastern Borders: Migration from an Economic and Geographic Periphery?

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Europe s eastern borders migration from an economic and geographic periphery

Europe’s Eastern Borders: Migration from an Economic and Geographic Periphery?

I G Shuttleworth

School of Geography, Archaeology and Paleoecology

QUB


Outline

Outline

  • Earlier migrations from the East – a biographical note from Poland

  • The paradoxes of contemporary labour migration

  • Cores and peripheries in the New Europe?

  • Conclusion


Earlier migrations from the east a biographical note from poland

Earlier migrations from the East – a biographical note from Poland

  • Poland has traditionally been a country of emigration

  • Immobility of the Iron Curtain the exception rather than the rule

  • Most EU states have substantial numbers of Poles and people of Polish descent


Earlier migrations from the east a biographical note from poland1

Earlier migrations from the East – a biographical note from Poland

  • The fall of the Iron Curtain and the accessions of May 2004 have meant a return to ‘business as normal’ – a new period of emigration to the West

  • A unified European labour market (in part)

  • But is it business as normal?

  • Is the current migration different to that seen in the past?


The paradoxes of contemporary labour migration

The Paradoxes of Contemporary Labour Migration

  • Poles in the UK are very diverse in their characteristics (so hard to generalise)

    • Skilled and young people practicing English

    • But a less-skilled component

      • Repairs, cleaning, driving

      • From diverse parts of Poland

  • Hard to estimate numbers with such a mobile population

  • But something new is happening in NI; rural parts of the UK; small towns etc


The paradoxes of contemporary labour migration1

The Paradoxes of Contemporary Labour Migration

  • Argument: the current emigration from countries like Poland to the old EU differs qualitatively from that seen in the past; more than just a result of the opening of borders; more complex than just filling labour shortages

  • One reason: the 1990s and the early 21st Century saw large-scale immigration to the USA and other developed economies

  • Are we looking at some broad structural change in the world economy? Perhaps so…


The paradoxes of contemporary labour migration2

The Paradoxes of Contemporary Labour Migration

  • Paradox I: Much immigration is to areas with labour surpluses as measured by low economic activity rates

    • What is happening to local labour markets in the UK and Ireland?

    • Attempts to encourage (force?) economic activity rates of host population up by govt.

  • Paradox II: Govt policy welcomes migrants; as do employers; assessments of positive impact on the UK and some sectors of the economy


The paradoxes of contemporary labour migration3

The Paradoxes of Contemporary Labour Migration

  • Paradox II (Cont): But schizophrenic attitudes towards migration controls and borders (cuts across orthodox lines of left and right in politics); open borders and employers’ needs versus anti-migration rhetoric and policies

  • Paradox III: Wider contradictions in views about globalisation, the EU and the state


The paradoxes of contemporary labour migration4

The Paradoxes of Contemporary Labour Migration

  • Much contemporary migration is individualistic, privatised (eg through employment agencies – not closely regulated), and unlike migratory flows in the 1950s and 1960s (eg bilateral arrangements between employers and states)

  • What then are we seeing?


The paradoxes of contemporary labour migration5

The Paradoxes of Contemporary Labour Migration

  • Crisis and transformation in the labour markets of countries like the UK

  • Deregulation, the ideology of ‘flexibility’, and competitive market pressures causing downward pressure in some sectors on wages have created a demand for disciplined, cheap immigrant labour

    • Example, agribusiness

    • Brings the ‘periphery’ to the ‘core’


The paradoxes of contemporary labour migration6

The Paradoxes of Contemporary Labour Migration

  • Cheap labour is essential for some sectors of the UK economy; hence

    • Govt and employer views on migration

  • Paradox I: Not a paradox if seen in light of problems in ‘encouraging’ engagement with low-wage sector of the UK economy

  • Paradox II & III: Not paradoxes if recognised that state border crossing migrants are more open to exploitation than host workers


The paradoxes of contemporary labour migration7

The Paradoxes of Contemporary Labour Migration

  • Paradoxes II & III (cont.): Especially so if unsure of rights; and recognition that international migrant labour is qualitatively different to host labour by virtue of crossing borders

  • This is especially true if non-EU borders are crossed; but still true if we consider migrants within the EU


Cores and peripheries in the new europe

Cores and Peripheries in the New Europe?

  • At one level, countries like Poland have resumed a ‘traditional’ role as a labour-exporting periphery to Western Europe

  • The loss of skilled workers through ‘brain drain’ may limit the economic development potential for some parts of Poland and some types of activity (eg in Health)

  • But what we are seeing now is far more than a simple core-periphery pattern


Cores and peripheries in the new europe1

Cores and Peripheries in the New Europe?

  • Neo-liberalism and the acceptance of market discipline in Western Europe means that the periphery’ is increasingly ‘coming home’ to Western labour markets

  • The consequences of labour market restructuring in the periphery in places like Poland mean that there are jobless people who can fill labour demands elsewhere in the EU


Cores and peripheries in the new europe2

Cores and Peripheries in the New Europe?

  • At the same time, Poland has been said to be a destination for immigrants from further East (500,000 Ukrainians in Poland (Iglicka 2001))

  • As investment increases in the East, the attractiveness of countries like Poland for immigrants is likely to grow

  • A cascading system of cores and peripheries marked out by migratory flows


Cores and peripheries in the new europe3

Cores and Peripheries in the New Europe?

  • A Rio Grande on the Bug for Fortress Europe?

  • May restrict immigration from the East in the short term but if employers’ taste for cheap labour (in Poland) and Western Europe to cut costs and increase market share continues then the Bug may prove as permeable as the Rio Grande


Conclusion

Conclusion

  • Remarks made in the absence of extensive empirical information

  • Needs recognised by NI govt to collect information on

    • Immigrant numbers (improve estimation techniques)

    • The use of immigrants by employers

    • Interactions with local labour markets

  • These are difficult issues to address


Conclusion1

Conclusion

  • These are added to by the need to understand more about migration from the perspective of sending as well as receiving countries

  • Nevertheless, despite these limitations, there is a good case that we have entered a new age of migration in Europe; one that is related to fundamental changes in the labour markets of sending and receiving countries


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