Warsaw, 6th November 2018
The outflow of immigrants from Ukraine to the West is a real threat to the our economy – Poland may lose up to 1.6% GDP
Poland faces a real problem related to the risk of a significant economic slowdown, which may be caused by the outflow of over half a million workers from Ukraine to Western Europe. According to experts of the Union of Entrepreneurs and Employers, avoiding such a scenario will be possible if a coherent migration policy is created, largely with a wise absorption of economic migrants from proven directions in mind.
This topic was discussed in a broader context in the memorandum titled “The worst case scenario takes place – will Poland lose employees from Ukraine to Germany”, presented by the Union of Entrepreneurs and Employers on November 6th this year during a press conference.
“We are anxiously observing the situation related to the insufficient supply of labour in Poland, and hence the related lack of workforce, which is increasingly often publicised in nationwide media. Since 2016, we have been calling for a coherent migration policy with procedures for employing Ukrainian citizens simplified to the maximum extent, as well as from other nations whose representatives are already working in Poland and contributing to the creation of GDP,” says Jakub Bińkowski, Secretary of the Law and Legislation Department at the Union of Entrepreneurs and Employers.
In his view, the next step in the economic context related to taking care of shortages on the labour market is to create a transparent path to obtain the right of permanent residence, and later citizenship for immigrants from countries east of the Polish border.
As one can read in the Union’s memorandum, “according to the estimates of the National Population Council, by 2050 Poland should receive 5 million economic migrants to maintain the current pace of economic development”.
Experts of the Union of Entrepreneurs and Employers agree that the continuation of the good economic situation will not be possible thanks to only short-term actions consisting in satisfying the country’s current needs and attracting immigrants for a short time, for example, due to the seasonal increase in labour demand.
“Virtually all EU member states, suffering from significant shortages of the working age population, are facing an analogous challenge. This is a very big threat not only to the current pace of economic development, which must decrease in a situation when fewer and fewer people are working, while more and more are on pension benefits, but it is also a threat to the stability of the pay-as-you-go pension system, and consequently – the situation of state budgets,” comments Tomasz Wróblewski, President of the Warsaw Enterprise Institute. “It is then no wonder that other European countries are very keen on acquiring a large group of immigrants taking up paid employment who assimilate easily.”
The introduction by Western countries of visa-free travel for workers from Ukraine, effective from 11th June 2017 (Ukrainian citizens do not need visas to enter the EU, this entitlement has been limited to 90 days over a period of 6 months, and trips can take place on business, tourist and family purposes), caused that in the first month of the new regulations being in force, the EU border was crossed visa-free by over 95,000 Ukrainians. At the same time, the dynamics of economic migration to Poland from the Eastern direction dropped significantly – data from the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy show that in the first half of 2018, 13 percent fewer statements were registered concerning the intention to entrust work to a foreigner compared to the previous year, which is a reversal of the trend from the last few years, i.e. in principle a continuous increase in the number of registered declarations.
“The Union of Entrepreneurs and Employers for many months presented its recommendations regarding the creation of a programme aimed at retaining economic migrants from Ukraine and other eastern countries in Poland. Unfortunately, we state with concern that Germany today is preparing to open its market for employees from outside the European Union. The German government wants to increase the inflow of qualified labour force while adjusting it to the needs of the labour market – the overriding objective here is to secure employees with vocational education,” says Katarzyna Niemyjska, Director of the Law and Legislation Department at the Union of Entrepreneurs and Employers. “Germany, as a result of a quick and simple procedure, is to recognise qualifications acquired outside the EU, to carry out extensive promotional activities encouraging people to work in Germany, and to offer support in learning the German language.”
The implementation by the Germans of the plan they presented will have a particular impact on the Polish economy. It can be assumed, and there are studies on this subject, that a large part of workers from Ukraine staying in Poland will decide to move to the West. This means an outflow to Germany of a large part of the labour force we need, which will cause great difficulties for entrepreneurs, but also macroeconomic problems. According to the Union’s estimates, in a moderate scenario assuming the outflow of 500,000 immigrants from Ukraine from the labour market, the potential GDP loss will amount to 1.6%, which is equivalent to 1/3 of the GDP growth dynamics in 2017. In the context of the imminent economic slowdown, this loss would be even more severe.
According to the Union, there is need for urgent governmental activity aimed at the implementation of measures to prevent the situation when a significant shortage of workforce in Poland becomes a fact and significantly affects the situation of entrepreneurs who will have difficulties conducting their businesses with a large number of job openings, while consumers will have to pay more for the same services and products. As a result, the state will also lose, because Ukrainians spend their money in Poland and their wages are normally taxed.