A blog by an American expatriate living in the heart of New Europe

"It's a lateral transfer" -- George W. Bush, 43rd President of the United States
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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Shame on Ireland and the UK

The UK and Ireland have decided that they like cheap construction workers, doctors, nurses, hairdressers, dentists, mechanics, and yes, even plumbers. They just don't like the fact that those cheap workers are coming from another country. Out of fear of... well, I'm not sure what, these two countries have decided not to leave the door open for laborers from Romania and Bulgaria.

Thankfully though, somebody is setting an example.


Blogger Top Cat said...

Gustav, where ya been? Too much pressure what with the Tigers down by one. Long night last night. I'm still recouperating. Carpenter's a good pitcher for the Cards...glad thats over.

And of course Michigan is #2 now. But don't worry, the Buckeyes can handle them.

I wouldn't be so hard on the Brits. They may want time to absorb all the Poles they have now. I think they've been very good dealing with the influx.

10/25/2006 10:53:00 PM  

Blogger beatroot said...

Yeah, no surprise this one. What newspapers like the Daily Mail etc have been doing is beating the government over the head with its prediction in 2004 that there would be around 11,000 Poles coming a year to UK. Of course that was a silly prediction, based on demographics that had no basis in fact – the EU had never expanded eastward before so there was no precedent for it.

But of course, Brits don’t distinguish between a large country like Poland and comparatively smaller ones Romania and Bulgaria. They also don’t realize the cultural roots of those countries – Latin based, who will be packing their bags and heading for Italy, not the UK.

But still, what’s a few facts when you can make political capital by looking like you are doing SOMETHING to stem the ‘flood’ of those pesky central and eastern Europeans?

10/26/2006 11:35:00 AM  

Blogger Top Cat said...

Beatroot, I remember you saying earlier you are 100% against stopping the free flow of labor "period". Still I didn't realize countries like Romania and Bulgaria were Latin (influenced), but I thought...Slavic.

It would certainly be easier for them to come and go from Italy. Its interesting to observe.

10/26/2006 01:55:00 PM  

Blogger beatroot said...

I am 100% for the free flow of people. Period.

and if you listen to a Romanian speaking you will see what I mean about 'Latin'.

10/26/2006 02:03:00 PM  

Blogger Gustav said...

Top Cat -

I've been in a non-blogging funk. Didn't feel I had anything to add on the coalition getting back together since it was hardly surprising and very depressing.

I've been very busy with all things American football, from watching it on the computer (any expats out there who miss American TV should check out www.viidoo.com) to coaching the Warsaw Eagles for our next game (this weekend we play the Wrocław Crew). I've also been following the Tigers, who - even if they lose the WS - we are all very proud of.

As for UM-OSU, everything will fall into place Nov. 18. But neither team can look too far ahead, or they'll get upset -- just look at what Indiana did to Iowa...

And the Brits don't need "time to absorb" the Poles they have now -- Poles, Czechs, Slovaks, et al. have arguably added a percentage point or two to their economic growth. By making things harder for Bulgarians and Romanians, they're putting their own country at a disadvantage, keeping those countries poorer, longer, and worst of all, sending a terrible message to the rest of the EU.

Beatroot -

I'm not so surprised either. A large amount of change in a small amount of time is guaranteed to scare people, regardless of whether the change is good or bad.

10/26/2006 02:28:00 PM  

Blogger Top Cat said...

And the Brits don't need "time to absorb" the Poles they have now -- Poles, Czechs, Slovaks, et al. have arguably added a percentage point or two to their economic growth. By making things harder for Bulgarians and Romanians, they're putting their own country at a disadvantage, keeping those countries poorer, longer, and worst of all, sending a terrible message to the rest of the EU.

ok, so I'm not a writer and am not that articulate...having said that, what is it, 50K Poles now? Any country will monitor a max influx like that. Look, we're going to build a 700 mile wall in Texas.

What I want to know is...remember a few years ago there was a camp in Northern France...Sangrette I think, with people taken from the channel tunnel entrance trying to get to Britian. France offered them citizenship, but they said no, they wanted to be British. What happend to them and why can the Poles get in there now?

Gustav, sorry about your funk. I hate when that happens. Remember to get plenty of rest and wash your hands often.

10/26/2006 03:38:00 PM  

Blogger Gustav said...

It's probably closer to 1 million Poles now -- and business in the UK has never been better. The US might be planning to build a wall in Texas -- but it's an extremely bad decision.

10/26/2006 06:31:00 PM  

Blogger Michael Farris said...

Britian is the most popular destination for a several reasons.

One is a lax attitude toward the personal details of employees (who are largely treated like interchangeable parts) that means almost anyone can get an employment toehold.
Job security in a particular position may not be high, but finding some sort of job just isn't that difficult.

Countries like Sweden (which also opened its job market) are much harder to get hired in partly because new employees aren't treated on the basis of 'if this one doesn't work out the next one off the street might'.

Also, there's the popularity of English. 'Everybody' knows or thinks they know English and going to some other country means having to learn another, less popular, language.
And even poor, almost non-existent language skills are not necessarily the barrier to employment in Britain that they are in many other countries.

I think Bulgarians and Romanians would go to England if given the chance.
I was in Bulgaria this summer for vacation and there are strong British links there and the tourist industry functions largely in English. I also read (no idea hwo true this is) that it was easy for non-Bulgarians especially Macedonians, whose country is in horrible shape, to buy Bulgarian passports almost certainly for the intention of travelling to Britain. The estimate of how many of those had been sold was in the tens of thousands (if not more).

A similar situation is found in Romania except the poor passport buying cousins there are Moldavian (and I knew a Romanian professor almost 10 years ago almost his entire social circle had moved to britain then).

The total population of both countries is around 30 million, which could generate a lot more migrants than Britain probably wants, especially with France and Germany acting like free riders and treating the new member states so shabbily.

10/27/2006 04:30:00 PM  

Blogger Top Cat said...

Hi Michael,
That was a very good explanation of the situation with quite alot of insight. Thank you. The newcomers to the EU would choose Britian first even if France and Germany would have them (I know I would choose Britian first also).

I don't agree with the idea of totally open borders. Its not responsible.

10/27/2006 05:34:00 PM  

Blogger Michael Farris said...

Germany would siphon off a lot if their economy weren't so controlled. Where I live (western poland) has very little history of immigration to English speaking countries and lots of history of going to Germany, that changed with the open jobs market in Britain and closed market in Germany

10/27/2006 07:01:00 PM  

Blogger beatroot said...

Mike - you are right about the ease of getting jobs in the UK - legal or not - and that is something that I am proud of being a Brit. We give anyone a go!

That's really come about since the 1980s, when all those social reforms the French and Germans are scared of making now were pushed through by Thatcher. Now Britain has one of those 'flexible' economies where you cam get a job, lose a job very easily. There is also high employment, again because many employers rip off people by offering miserable temp jobs, or part time with no rights at all.

So Britain will always get immigration. And good. But don't underestimate the links between Italy and Romania. There are 500,000 Romanians in Italy right now, so many will follow them.

10/27/2006 07:27:00 PM  

Blogger Gustav said...

Brits ought to be proud that they give opportunity easily.

And those temp jobs may be shit, but they often provide young people with the "experience" they need to get better jobs later -- "experience" which I hear so many unemployed students in Poland complaining about being impossible to get, but which is demanded by decent employers.

10/28/2006 12:07:00 AM  

Blogger Top Cat said...

Gustav said...
Brits ought to be proud that they give opportunity easily.

Well, which is it, Gustav, you better change the name of this post.


10/28/2006 01:04:00 AM  

Blogger Gustav said...

Surely one can be proud of one thing and ashamed of another at one time?

I was responding to Beatroot's description of the "flexible" economy - which Britain's certainly is, and of which Brits ought to be proud.

What they ought to be ashamed of is their decision not to make it more flexible, and worse, cherry picking the benefits of EU membership. They are also sending a message to the entire EU that the earlier open-labor experiment was a failure -- which it most certainly wasn't.

10/28/2006 01:27:00 AM  

Blogger Top Cat said...

Britian has been exemplary. The rest of Europe will catch up some day.

Its been too much too fast..you said yourself. Give them some time.

They keep this up and before you know it...we'll all be speaking English!!!

10/28/2006 02:05:00 AM  

Anonymous op said...


10/28/2006 08:47:00 PM  

Blogger beatroot said...

Britian has been exemplary.

For who? The millions stuck in insecure and temporary employment? All those in de-unionized MacJobs?

It's a good economy to absorb immigrants but it's pretty shitty for millions of others.

Good old Thatcher. Good old Ronnie Reagan! Good old neo-liberals.

10/29/2006 02:32:00 PM  

Blogger beatroot said...

And what the fuck is wrong with these comment counters at the moment? Blogger must be run by a bunch of low skilled kids on MacJobs.

10/29/2006 02:34:00 PM  

Anonymous callsent said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10/29/2006 03:34:00 PM  

Blogger Gustav said...

What's wrong with the counter?

10/30/2006 01:14:00 AM  

Anonymous Jeff said...

It should be noted that the UK was one of very few EU states to allow free movement for workers in last batch of new member states (e.g. Poland). Instead of bashing the UK, which has been more generous than most, it would be better to examine EU policy as a whole. It should also be noted that Romania's economy is a lot worse than Poland's, and the resulting brain-drain in Romania would cause a lot of domestic problems. And I'm currently in the UK and unemployed, so it's not as easy to get a job.

11/03/2006 05:56:00 PM  

Blogger Gustav said...

Jeff -

This blog has been very critical in the past of other EU members' unwillingness to open their labor markets. It has also praised the UK for opening theirs.

But now what the UK is doing is sending a message that the first "batch" wasn't beneficial, when it was, and give the other members reason to keep their labor markets closed.

Pointing to someone else and saying: "Don't blame us 'cause somebody else is behaving worse" is no defense. Hypocrisy is hypocrisy.

11/06/2006 11:39:00 AM  

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