At a Loss: The Exodus from Eastern Europe

By Bhat, Kiran | Harvard International Review, Winter 2007 | Go to article overview

At a Loss: The Exodus from Eastern Europe


Bhat, Kiran, Harvard International Review


If there is one enduring image from the contentious spring 2005 debate over the ratification of the European Constitution, it is that of the "Polish plumber." Indicating a seemingly universal fear of this phantom, both the fiery anti-immigration Nationalist Front leader Jean Marie Le-Pen on the far right and the former Socialist Prime Minister Laurent Fabius on the left invoked this imaginary man in the campaign for a French "Non." The supposedly spiteful Pole halfway across Europe would invade the French countryside and flood the market with cheap labor, crowding out jobs that French citizens needed and deserved.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

The imagery worked, the French campaigners received their "Non," and confederacy was restored to a European Union that was moving toward integration and a federal-style government. But amidst the chaos of the failed ratification, no one in this confederation ever asked what the Polish plumber's presence in Western Europe or his absence from Poland itself means for his country of origin.

While there is little proof that the Polish plumber is negatively impacting the economies of Western Europe, the sheer number of immigrant workers who move west for work ought to be of concern to Eastern European countries. Integration into the European Union comes with great advantages--access to diplomatic relationships with some of the world's most powerful nations, a common market in which to trade goods, and the status of being a member of one of the international community's most elite clubs. But Eastern Europe cannot afford to ignore the negative side effects of integration either, and the population loss caused by immigration to Western Europe has become an increasingly worrisome trend.

Happy Beginnings

The first day of May 2004 was a liberating one for the peoples of 10 countries in Eastern Europe. The fatigue caused by years of Soviet domination followed by the disarray of the post-collapse era ended, as Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Estonia, Cyprus, Malta, and Slovenia were officially admitted into the European Union.

For the first time in decades, formal diplomatic relations were established between the former Soviet bloc and Western Europe. The inconveniences of harsh immigration restrictions and lack of political clout were lifted with integration. And, after years of forced silence and insignificance on the world stage, Eastern Europe had finally found an independent voice, strongly legitimized by the backing of an elite global organization.

And while establishing diplomatic relations with the likes of Britain, France, and Germany was helpful for these semi-developed nations, the truly appealing incentive for Eastern Europe to integrate itself into the European Union was access to foreign markets. The 10 countries that acceded in 2004 had economies that paled in comparison to the likes of their developed neighbors. Britain, Ireland, and Sweden immediately flung their doors open to the Eastern European market, removing quotas on the amounts of workers and eliminating all trade barriers that previously bogged down economic relations. Other EU giants, namely France and Germany, placed restrictions on immigrants to stem the inevitable tide of people looking for jobs.

The initial results of the EU integration of Eastern Europe looked great for all parties. Poland, the largest of the 10 nations to integrate and therefore the most often cited example, saw its real GDP growth rate rise from 1.4 percent in 2002 to 3.7 percent in 2003, the year in which accession was ratified. Immigrants also sent back remittances, which according to the World Bank's Global Economic Prospects 2006 report can substantially reduce the severity of poverty and create education and labor opportunities in the country to which remittances are being sent. Britain, the largest country to open its doors to labor from the newly integrated states, also greatly benefited from immigrant labor. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

At a Loss: The Exodus from Eastern Europe
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.