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!

IMAGE CREDITS: (public domain) – pixabay

43 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar

    No. Why would we? Freedom of movement means freedom to decide on our own life. This means simply FREEDOM.
    This is what EU is about.

    • avatar

      Nobody really disputes that. On the other hand, we also have some responsibility towards our communities, to help them to continue to exist, and to prosper. There’s nothing wrong with encouraging and supporting that.

  2. avatar

    What would be the purpose of the EU without free movement? Why drive the striving youth out of the EU when they could find a future inside the EU?

  3. avatar

    No. Young Europeans are free to move inside or outside Europe…. Erasmus is a very positive policy….

    • avatar

      absolutely agree… Erasmus literally changed my life!

  4. avatar

    Freedom of movement is the only thing allowing eu wide income inequality to be minimally moderated. You kill that, you kill the EU, because i am for sure not staying in for its economic policy expertise

    • avatar

      Interesting debate though. We don’t know our respective countries well when young. It would also decrease carbon footprint if flying. Other side of the coin, leaving is often the best way to come back to your own country willing to discover it more. So I’d say 1-1, ball in the middle.

    • avatar

      true true

  5. avatar

    The EU will need a new discussion about the internal migration of labor. Countries like Bulgaria and Romania will have their economies (and social systems) completely ruined because they cannot compete for labor sufficiently. This is apparent especially in the health services sector.
    We though that the migration of labor was a solution to economic growth — in a way it is. At the same time it’s become the cause of new problems.
    I don’t have a solution, I just know that this should be discussed.

    • avatar

      I do not know about Romania but in the context of Bulgaria it must be mentioned that maing reason for this migration is the extremely high levels of corruption, which EU could address first before looking into free movement as a problem.

    • avatar

      Bódis – in Romania as a twist of irony we are the destination as a place for foreign workers (from Pakistan, Afganistan and such) in construction and some other sectors, so we are not THAT bad, we still need more workforce but we have more time until we can panic 😂

    • avatar

      How many Afghan doctors or nurses work in Romania now? And who will heal the ppl in Afghanistan?

    • avatar

      I remember reading about the Bulgarian electoral system, how it regularly produces weak governments that can be “blackmailed” from the outside. What’s your opinion on that, Borislav?

    • avatar

      Bódis – we have the s****y mentality of complaing about corruption but once in power is like “I finally got to a position from which i can do it too” especially since there is zero degree of accountability for their actions. The scheme get some EU money and put them for your own benefit and then Bulgaria gets slammed with a fine for “misusing” EU funds is so well drilled… In such desperation people are looking to move in my mind. Very few of them would site a reason for emigration that is not directly linked to the currect corupt system.

    • avatar

      Ppl actually tend to move for the higher wages and the higher standard of living, but I accept that you have another opinion.
      As for corruption, here’s a perspective: in 2009 and afterwards the EU gave more than 1500 billion(!) Euros of public funds to private banks for nothing in return — and it wasn’t even called corruption.
      The EU’s own “corruption” benefits the big banks and corporations, so nobody calls it corruption, it’s just a standard practice

    • avatar

      Bódis – I am not too familiar with this standard practice but in my mind living standards and the levels of government corruption are correlated. In other words, solving those issues would certainly improve a number of performance factors related to liviing conditions and standards. I am not talking about an ideal fairytale world but rather a situation where corruption is being limited by effective prosecusion.

    • avatar

      When you compare to the average in Eastern Europe, then there’s some correlation with corruption, certainly. Especially when the rate of economic growth falls below the regional average regularly, then you can definitely blame corruption. That’s an important way to tell.
      When you compare to Western Europe, the reasons are primarily historical.

  6. avatar

    Free movement within the EU has facilitated labour mobility. However, in some regions this freedom has led to a significant loss of their highly educated workforce.
    Free movement means that people from countries where salaries and work conditions are bad (generally located in the south of Europa), can go and get better conditions and opportunities in other countries where conditions are better (generally in the North of Europe) and don’t want to come back to the same old €#p, would you?
    (signed a Spaniard that lived in Ireland, Portugal, and now Germany with a German gf and three German kids).
    If the EU has one good thing is that it has given its citizen more choices and freedom. And of course we choose what to do with it.

  7. avatar

    Yes. Europe’s greatest strength is its diversity, which will be lost with massive internal movements (not to mention external ones).

  8. avatar

    It works in the other direction. Some of us this the UK is a sh**hole and want to escape to poorer countries!! Seriously!

  9. avatar

    Young people in Bulgaria work three things:
    1. Waiter
    2. Cashier
    3. Slaves in the Outsourcing industry. People with Degrees in Law, Economy, International relations, Medicine etc. cannot work what they studied and instead work in call centres instructing foreigners how to use coffee machine. For a miserable wage of course.

    • avatar

      Now that is not exactly true… if you look into the number of employed in this outsourcing industry, if you wish to call it, the percantage of people you describe is around or below 10%…

  10. avatar

    Freedom of movement within EU is the main right of an European citizen and is one of the main tools that another value EU has: free market (in this case labor market). This is the only healthy way to correctly value the work. One more thing: bureacrats should focus more on encouraging than discouraging.

  11. avatar

    No. People deserve better. Eventually it will sort it self out. A balance will be found. With government investment and policy making to help.

  12. avatar
    EU Reform- Proactive

    “Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi” the Pan European Union goal setter wrote that the basic principles of a united Europe were: free will; Christianity; social responsibility and commitment to European integration.

    He also wrote (he actual wrote a lot!): all cities receive their power from the country- the country in turn collects its culture from the cities. Therein lay some 1923 wisdom! The more recent view is:

    “Urban populations interact with their environment. Urban people change their environment through their consumption of food, energy, water, and land. And in turn, the polluted urban environment affects the health and quality of life of the urban population.”

    Unfortunately, the political EU has no all encompassing solution for Europe! Who has- since everything is interrelated?

  13. avatar

    The gaining states should be contributing for the benefit they receive.

  14. avatar

    There is a massive difference between encouraging and forcing.
    Encouragement still allows freedom of choice … whereas enforcement involves no freedom at all.

  15. avatar

    Hmmm, so continue the lottery of birth, where the location of where you are born dictates the opportunities available in your life?

    • avatar

      What about helping make your community better? Should you just quit on it, so that you can improve your chances in the ‘lottery’ or whatever game you imagine you’re living in?

  16. avatar

    The right question is ‘Should EU continue to see people like numbers? When the richest 1% own half the world’s wealth, you can do the math and accept that movement and immigration will never stop. Force them to live like us and everything will be solved!

  17. avatar

    Is better to encourage like local product to stay in their own countries, we reduce CO2 emision from transport of this product. What are the reason to move apple from Poland to Romania, and vice-versa?
    But of course the development countries wants to export products but don’t wants workers ??!?!

  18. avatar

    “before claiming the right to emigrate must be said the right to remain in his own land” Pope ratzinger

  19. avatar

    If you decide for yourself that you wish to remain in your own country then that is your business, but if you want to decide for other people where they should and should not go then you are sticking your nose in other peoples business. You should not be sticking your nose in other peoples business.

    • avatar
      Paul X


      You could also say that those who go to another country are sticking their noses into the business of the people who have chosen to remain in that country

  20. avatar

    What do you mean by “encourage”? Is encouragement LEGALLY BINDING? Hmmm… Does that come from the Romanian ministry of finance? I am familiar with the line of thought… The millions of emigrants will simply turn into millions of new citizens… Now… How about “encouraging” the countries of origin of all those people to offer motivation for returning? Why beat around the bush? Why do you make it a people’s problem when it’s a EU Council /local government failure?

  21. avatar

    mobility encourages competition in the labor market… say salaries

  22. avatar

    First we discourage nationalisms and then we build iron curtains for the EU country members’ people? Thak makes sense, I guess…

  23. avatar

    Perhaps we should first term/award economically neutral statuses according to excellence and then record the reasons behind mobility. If some people according to merit had universal/identical salaries across the EU then the motives behind mobility can be deconvolved. In this case mobility should not only be discouraged but be promoted instead.

  24. avatar

    Of course not. Inward looking young people serves Europe nothing good. This is a global era, citizenship goes global as well. It is only through the cultivation of a global perspective, Europe can continue to pursue its ideals and become one of the pillars to support modernity of the global era.

  25. avatar

    Without seeing the world, people would never realize how big the world it.

  26. avatar
    bert van santen

    What have the #EU politicians got to do with other peoples business? Nothing!!!!

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