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German report German report
by Euro Reporter
2011-04-27 09:20:05
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Big inflow of migrant workers

Germany could see a net inflow of almost 800,000 migrant workers from central and Eastern Europe over the next two years, following the opening of its borders to free labour movement in the European Union on May 1, according to economic researchers. Yet the figure – far higher than official government estimates of up to 140,000 migrants a year – could prove a double bonus, according to the Cologne-based Institute for the German Economy (IW), rather than a threat to job security.

 “It is the right step at the right time,” Michael Hüther, the institute’s director, said on Tuesday. A sharp increase in labour migration could fuel the country’s economic recovery at a time of increasing skill shortages, he said. It could also relieve pressure on an ageing workforce by providing a new generation of skilled workers. The IW study supports the arguments of German business and the government that no special measures are needed to cope with the imminent liberalisation. But trade union leaders have called for urgent measures to prevent “wage dumping” and unfair competition for the least skilled German workers, including a minimum wage for contract workers.

Germany and Austria are the last two EU member states to open their borders to free labour movement from the central and east European states that joined in May 2004. Both countries postponed the move because of fears of a flood of migrant workers undermining local wages and conditions. Prof Hüther admitted that 40 per cent of German workers questioned by his institute feared that free labour movement from the east, especially Poland, would have a negative effect on their jobs. But he said there was widespread ignorance about the new EU law and what it might mean.

He forecast that an initial surge in labour migration over the coming two years would rapidly decline, leading to a net immigration of 1.2m workers by 2020. Such an inflow was “not extraordinarily high” in historical comparison – Germany saw a net inflow of 3.3m immigrants in the decade from 1991 and 2000. In 1992 alone, shortly after German unification and the collapse of the Soviet Union, 800,000 immigrants arrived. The IW study says the figures mark the upper limit of potential labour migration, based on analysis of Eurobarometer statistics for the desire of workers in central and Eastern Europe to work abroad.


Protesters demand stop to nuclear power

An estimated 120,000 people demonstrated across Germany on Monday, protest organizers said, demanding an end to the use of nuclear power and increasing pressure on Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government to speed up the closing of the country’s 17 nuclear plants. Last month, after the nuclear accident in Japan, Mrs. Merkel imposed a moratorium on new nuclear plant construction and temporarily closed seven existing plants.


Germany drops work visas for Balts

Germany has dropped the requirement for people from the Baltic States to aquire work permits in order to get jobs in the country. The requirements were dropped for the Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, as well as Poland, The Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Slovenia.  Citizens of these countries will be treated the same as other EU nationals. The changes are due to take effects on May 1.

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