For many Europeans, emigration is now a bigger concern than immigration. Young people, particularly in southern and eastern Europe, are often raised and educated in their home country before travelling elsewhere in Europe looking for work.
Critics argue the EU’s current emigration dynamic saps southern and eastern Member States of talented and innovative workers (along with their future tax revenues). It threatens services, especially in rural areas; staff shortages in some hospitals in Romania, for example, are reportedly already at crisis levels.
Supporters say that the free flow of people in Europe is a fundamental right that benefits everyone, and that investment from core countries also flows into the periphery, boosting their economies and promoting convergence. They point out that there is also a similar dynamic at play within Member States, with young people in rural communities moving away to cities to seek jobs. The real issue, they argue, is one of dwindling overall birthrates and insufficient rural investment.
The issue of emigration could be an important one in the upcoming European elections. A YouGov poll of 50,000 Europeans conducted in April 2019 on behalf of the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) found that many Europeans worry about emigration more than they worry about immigration.
Should we encourage young Europeans to stay in their own countries? Should more money be invested in rural communities to improve opportunities there? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!