The Economic Principles of European Integration

By Stephen Frank Overturf | Go to book overview
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about 11 million foreign workers and their families in northern Europe in 1983, with 5 million in West Germany alone. Of the latter number, there were around 1.5 million Turks. The Turks in West Germany have received the greatest publicity, both because of social and economic impact and because of lack of ease of integration into German society. Germany, for example, is now beginning to put pressure on Turks to go home, through policies such as reporting to the police jobless workers who ask for welfare.

The non- EC migrants are seen as creating, or at least not helping to solve, a number of problems. First, their existence is seen as delaying reduction in agricultural employment within the Community by taking the jobs that would go to redundant EC national agricultural workers. Second, the migrant workers flow into existing centers of production easily, thereby perhaps reducing any natural impetus to a greater locational spread of industry. Third, they put a heavy strain on existing public services, thus increasing social costs for all. Fourth, their presence can lead to social unrest as their poor living and working conditions become more and more unacceptable (to them if no one else). Finally, the sheer numbers and lack of locational integration can lead to racism.

Against these negative effects certainly must be weighed positive economic factors for the migrants themselves (there are many success stories of migrants becoming either well assimilated or else returning home financially able to start new businesses) and the countries that invited them. The LDCs supplying the workers are generally seen to benefit. In Turkey, for example, a close to 25 percent unemployment rate is relieved by migration, and remittances account for $2 billion per year in helping a perennial balance-of- payments problem. On the other hand, it cannot be denied that the best workers leave, thus creating skill scarcities at home that perhaps impede growth, and in spite of the success stories many return home to find no jobs to utilize their new talents (thus adding to social unrest at home).

In fact, without available jobs, it appears that the foreign workers are now beginning to go back home, and thus the present problems may in the long run be solved, but probably not without continued short-run adjustment problems for all involved.


In conclusion, it can be noted that most of what is called "social policy" in the EC in fact deals exclusively with aspects of


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