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Tuesday, August 22, 2006


John F. Opie

Hi -

I've got several Bulgarians working with me and I just took the time to show them this piece. I've been very impressed by the ones that I've been working with: hard-working, dedicated and on the ball in all cases, not a slacker among them...

If anything, they say that you're not only dead on, but also that the situation in Bulgaria is even worse than what has been reported in this article. One woman hasn't been back in 5 years because of the endemnic problems; another goes back only once every two years for the same reason.

Of course, the folks in Bruxelles merrily ignore this whole problem in order to either reap the glory that managing the accession or have already gotten their piece of the pie. After all, corruption is nothing new to the faceless bureaucrats and unelected officials of the EU, is it?



Well, my position on EU immigration is that the EU is a political institution and project, and ''ever closer union'' does rely on things like freedom of movement, so I find the restrictions on A8 immigration that some countries have chosen to be not very nice at all.

At the same time immigration can be very disruptive, and I find statements like

«I believe the influx of Central and Eastern Europeans to Britain in the last two or three years has been a net benefit.»

to be quite astute in their vagueness. Of net benefit to whom? And as to

«But I recognise that there are potential downsides»

that is more fancy verbiage: «potential» indeed :-)! And downsides for whom?

A8 immigration has been a political necessity, and those who have born the costs of this necessity have got themselves not even a ''thank you very much'' for their troubles.

As to Bulgaria and Romania, the question should have been whether entering the Union now was wise, as some comments say.

Since the answer has been ''now'', and won't change, for political reasons, then freedom of movement should follow, for political reasons. Or else the EU should formalize its dual nature as a political union for a core and a trade union for the rest.

Anyhow the situation in Bulgaria seems entirely similar and perhaps not as bad as the one in southern Italy, and the EU has managed to grudgingly survive that.

Italy had largely the same problem with the south; many northern italians thought political unification had been too quick; but the country survived.

And as to freedom of movement, just as it happened in Italy when many millions of really poor southern Italians emigrated to northern Italy, that is an essential component as to improving the lot of the poor parts of a political union and to make them less desperate.

The deed is done, and to do it halfway like with the A8 is not that nice. And for most people in the rich bits of the EU it may be better to offshore production to cheaper places within the EU than to far away India or China, and within a political union offshoring may be better than immigration (viceversa outside probably).

jon livesey

I don't have any particular position on immigration. Sometimes it's a net benefit, sometimes not. However, we should recognize that there may be some dangers to democracy here. If a western European voter were to say "My Prime Mininster went to Brussels and signed documents I didn't even read, let along get a vote on, but now I have to pay for the consequences in welfare and other costs", how should we answer? Do we just say "Too bad, chum. Sorry about your tax raise, or about you losing your job, but it's just that ever closer union jazz?"

And the answer isn't that Mr Voter is just "wrong". Politics is about perceptions as much as it is about reality.

«Do we just say "Too bad, chum. Sorry about your tax raise, or about you losing your job, but it's just that ever perceptions as much [ ... ] as it is about reality.closer union jazz?"»

But most voters are older than immigrants and own assets unlike immigrants, so as far as voters are concerned, immigrants make it easier to find cheap staff (for gardening, or as employees, or for the NHS), and they are of benefit.

The typical story about immigration to the UK is that the middle classes are delighted with being able to extract better value from both foreign born and native underclass workers:


«The British middle classes have welcomed the newcomers as cheap but industrious workers in their homes and restaurants. A survey of Polish migrants published last week revealed that they believe their “whiteness” to be an advantage in getting work here. British whites probably feel little anxiety about migrants who look European and come from a mainly Christian country, especially as many will go home once they have made some money.»

«It is bizarre that the Labour Party, which still continues to insist that it is the party of the poor and vulnerable, should endorse a policy the purpose of which is the creation of what Marx called "a reserve army of labour": a pool of workers whose presence ensures that rates of pay for cleaners and ancillary staff in the NHS can be kept as low as possible.»

As to the the traditional upper-middle classes like doctors, the government is rather keen to protect them:


«Health minister Lord Warner told the BBC's Today programme the change was necessary as competition for jobs grew. "What we have done is make sure that we are becoming more self-sufficient in training our own doctors," he said. "There has been a 70% increase in the number of medical school intakes over the last seven or eight years and we have to find and ensure that there are post graduate specialist training posts."»

The average voter is quite pleased with making the Poles (or Bulgarians or Romanians) work hard for little pay. It is the minority of people who compete with the immigrants that are not so happy, and they matter little electorally, and the ''middle class'' majority could not care less.


"This blogs position on migration within the European Union is for open borders among all members states and to let people work and settle where they want."

Noble sentiment but naive and unworkable.

Employment in Europe is NOT like the US. If you lose your job in Boston, stateside, you might find another in Biloxi. If you lose your job in Bratislava, you don't go looking for another in Bordeaux.

(The problem today in the south of Europe, which is occupying the headlines, are the thousands of hapless Africans literally washing up on Europe's southern shores. That can only be addressed by selective immigration.)

As for the Polish Plumber, yes he should be welcome in France. The Polish Doctor is already welcome in the UK, so why not elsewhere? The accession rules (in most cases a gradual accessibility to national labor markets by the new EU members drawn out over a 7 year period) are in place simply to not worsen a local unemployment situation.

The UK simply does not have the same magnitude of problem in that those unemployed coming from the UE sometimes seek very enjoyable unemployment compensation or family assistance, which permits them to install themselves permanently. This is simply not on in countries struggling with 10% unemployment at the moment.

The EU mentallity remains one that thinks of itself as an aggregation (and not federation) of national states ... meaning that it is not the least bit harmonized in terms of compensation to the unemployed. The situation has therefore become uncontrollable. Migrants are not fools - they cherry pick where they want to settle based upon local state aids.

Get a common immigration policy right and things will go better. But, this means that jobs must exist BEFORE and not AFTER people migrate. And, I use the word migrate intentionally. A great percentage of people from Eastern Europe do not wish it immigrate, but simply migrate momentarily. They are thinking of getting a financial bundle together towards going back one day to settle permanently in their home country. This should be encouraged since it is certainly more efficient that some idiot civil servant in Brussels determining where EU country development monies should be attributed.


Blissex : "At the same time immigration can be very disruptive, and I find statements like .... to be quite astute in their vagueness. Of net benefit to whom?"

To me, for one. I just hired a Hungarian plumber to fix a leak whilst the French variety was off sunning himself on some Mediterranean beach.

Not only, but the Hungarian plumber (totally legal) works at a rate just above the minimum wage and not twice that rate like his French counterpart. And, even at that rate, he is earning more money than he ever would in Hungary. (He's also spending a lot more of it on housing, however.)

Outsourcing has caused jobs to flee most Western EU countries towards climates that were more labor-rate friendly, typically in Eastern Europe (but also obviously to China). Skilled migrants from those eastern countries will do the same in construction where the need is greatest (at least in France and I think quite possibly as much in Germany and the UK.)

Physical residence has only one impact on labor-rate ... local social charges applied. A programmer working in Latvia for a French bank developing mission critical software will get his/her Latvian local rate. The Polish Plumber working in France will get an altogether different labor-rate from his counterpart back in Poland.

That is what the kerfuffle regarding the Bolkenstien Services Directive was all about. Services are "fungible" meaning some of them can easily be exported to be done elsewhere. But, a great many are also local and not exportable. (I don't know anyone going to Budapest for a haircut.)

And Europe has not yet got the Services Directive quite right. It is important to do so. I may need badly a plumber or a mason, but in the transformation of our economies from the Industrial to the Information Age, more jobs will be created in the services sector than elsewhere.

Brawn is of diminishing importance to a dynamic developed economy and it should be made available from the least expensive source.


send some bulgrian workmen i'll be happy to ve them.

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