Warsaw, 20th October 2021
While we must defend our borders, we need immigration for settlement, not Gastarbeiter
The key conclusion from a new report published by the Union of Entrepreneurs and Employers today: the Polish policy on immigration ought to be based on a quota system and should provide for an easy path to obtain permanent residence and legal employment.
Experts of the Union of Entrepreneurs and Employers have long drawn attention to the fact that Poland is in need of a reasonable immigration policy, that is it not just a temporary necessity.
“As a result of a low total fertility rate, we are now facing a rather serious demographic problem, which affects the situation on the labour market, whereas in the long run, it will impact almost every aspect of the functioning of the state,” comments Cezary Kaźmierczak, President of the Union of Entrepreneurs and Employers. “To maintain our current economic growth, we simply have to accept the fact that we need immigrants.”
As the Union’s experts indicate in their report, problems related to demographics are the root of numerous short- and long-term challenges. The former are mainly related to workforce shortages in several sectors of the economy, while the latter are much more complex and are related, amongst others, to increasing burdens on the Social Insurance Fund or the healthcare system.
Unfortunately, the Polish immigration policy currently solely responds, and not in a fully effective manner, to the former. Its structural weakness is the consistent adherence to a model based on fast-rotating and short-term immigration.
“One could say that the model of immigration policy adopted in Poland is of a Gastarbeiter character,” continues Cezary Kaźmierczak. “Immigrants come for a short time, work hard and are then forced to go back to their country of origin. They have no serious connection to Poland. A couple of Western European countries had made that mistake, and we are, unfortunately, not learning from it.”
The system described above fails to meet the needs of employers and employees alike. The former group is looking for employees for a longer period, as they want to ensure the stability and continuity of their business operations. The other, in turn, often declares the willingness to leave their country for good, ergo they need a state with predictable and foreigner-friendly settlement procedures.
“Despite the fact that professional activity of immigrants in Poland remains one of the highest in the European Union, our adopted model of immigration is not up to date with society’s needs,” claims Jakub Bińkowski, Member of the Board of the Union and Head of the Law and Legislation Department. “Immigration is a value the state should not underestimate. Meanwhile, existing regulations are definitely in favour of fast-rotating immigration, which – while it does temporarily fill the gaps in labour supply – is not the answer to our development challenges in the long run.”
In their report, the Union’s experts indicated desired changes for the better in public policy. Above all else, the system should give preference to settlement and family immigration, enabling the acquisition of citizenship in the long term. A white and red card, highlighting Poland’s national colour, should serve as a physical confirmation of obtaining a long-term residence permit as well as legal employment. It should be issued for a period of 3 years at first and later, under certain conditions, should be extended indefinitely. To maintain control over the immigration process, the government should make a political decision regarding the number of immigrants from each country that the state will be able to accept over a given period.
“It goes without saying that we need immigrants,” concludes Cezary Kaźmierczak. “However, we must draw a line between legal and illegal immigration. We have a firm position on the latter – we have to make use of the experience of others and put to use a wide range of instruments: from physical barriers in the form of walls, through deportations of illegal immigrants to their country of origin, to a lifetime ban on re-entry to the Republic of Poland.”