A recent study by a migration NGO has stirred up the debate on the economic effects of labour migration from eastern Europe suggesting that gains were only marginal. But the UK government and industry federations disagree with the finding.
The study by Migrationwatch UK, published on 3 January 2007, argues that labour immigration from Eastern Europe and other countries brought little benefit to economic growth. It finds that “the benefit to each member of the native population of the UK from immigration is worth about 4 pence a week – or less than the equivalent of a Mars Bar a month.” The document suggests that the costs might even outweigh the benefits from immigration. It further stipulates that migrant workers were pressuring wages to lower levels which seem unacceptable to many unemployed.
Nevertheless, the Labour government stresses that immigration has largely benefited the UK economy and argue that it had a positive effect on employment. The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) said migrant workers brought in valuable skills and filled job vacancies that UK citizens were unable or unwilling to take on.
A study by the German Ministry for Business and Technology found that the situation of skills shortage is worsening as more highly skilled Germans leave the country and fewer immigrants arrive. Germany continues to apply a “closed-door policy” on labour migrants from eastern Europe.
Germany, which holds the EU Presidency from 1 January 2007, intends to promote a European approach to attract skilled workers as part of reviving the Lisbon Agenda.