The two EU enlargements of 2004 and 2007 have not led to a massive influx of central and eastern European workers to the “old” member states.
The number of workers from the countries that joined the EU in 2004 now living in the 15 “old” member states has only grown from 0.3 percent of their total population in 2003 to 0.5 percent by the end of 2007, with those workers mostly heading to Ireland and the UK.
In total, there are still more migrants from states outside the EU coming to work in the EU-15 countries than nationals from the countries that joined the bloc since 2004.
In addition to the size of intra-EU migration remaining relatively stable, the ‘new’ workers have not caused “serious disturbances” on labour markets, the report concludes. Workers from the ‘new’ EU member states have also contributed to the economic growth by bringing more workers where they were most needed, and have had “little or no negative impact” on wages and unemployment levels.
Brussels also stresses that most of the migrant workers are “young, single and working,” with 80 percent of those coming from one of the ten countries that joined the EU in 2004 – as well as 70 percent of Bulgarian and Romanian migrants – being younger than 35.
Consequently, the commission “encourages member states to lift restrictions to the free movement of workers as quickly as possible,” and reminds that “freedom of movement is a right for every EU worker and is one of the four fundamental freedoms of the European Union.”
It also believes that lifting the limitations would decrease the levels of undeclared work and the negative consequences on the economy, as well as the social costs that go with it.