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TOP 10 MIGRATION ISSUES OF 2005
Issue #5: EU Disunion: Immigration in an Enlarged Europe
Women wave from a window in the Polish border town of Slubice on April 30, 2004, one day before Poland joined the European Union. Since then, thousands of Poles have sought work in the UK, Ireland, and Sweden.
The European Union (EU) celebrated the one-year anniversary of its historic
enlargement from 15 to 25 members in May 2005, but the majority of its new
citizens still face obstacles to living and working in most of the EU-15. Some
of those barriers will start to come down in 2006.
Only the UK, Ireland, and Sweden have allowed accession-state nationals to
work without permits since accession day, May 1, 2004. Over 230,000 Eastern
Europeans had registered to work in the UK by June 30, a migration that some
are already calling one of the largest in recent decades. The British Home
Office has stated that these workers are helping to fill gaps in the labor
market though some natives in the manual trades have complained of depressed
An estimated 128,000 Poles, Latvians, and Lithuanians had registered to work
in Ireland as of August 2005 while Sweden had registered about 16,000 from
the accession states, mostly from Poland, as of October.
Although the EU is most likely years away from creating an EU-wide immigration
policy, November marked the first time an EU leader has put forth a labor migration
idea that could affect all Member States. EU Justice, Freedom, and Security Commissioner
Franco Frattini has proposed a "job-seeker's permit," which
some have called a "green card," that would allow highly skilled
immigrants who receive the permit from any one Member State to work in any
industry in all 25 EU countries.
This year also saw the failure of the EU constitution with strong "no" votes
from France and the Netherlands. Some analysts pointed to integration (see
Issue #1) as a cause of the rejection, but long-lingering EU Member States
publics' distrust of Brussels, discontent with their governments' policy
posture on a number of key issues, and anxiety about the social and economic
direction of the Union were equally powerful motives.
For more information, please see the following articles:
• Schengen and the Free Movement of People Across Europe
• The Hague Program Reflects New European Realities
• EU Enlargement and the Limits of Freedom
• The Roma of Eastern Europe: Still Searching for Inclusion
• The Challenges of Integration for the EU
• EU Membership Highlights Poland's Migration Challenges
• The Czech Republic: From Liberal Policy to EU Membership
• Hungary: Transit Country Between East and West
• United Kingdom: Rising Numbers, Rising Anxieties
• Ireland: A Crash Course in Immigration Policy
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