Following the real panic that’s been spreading across Great Britain regarding the reportedly anticipated rush, at the end of this year, of unemployed Romanians and Bulgarians into Britain and the momentum stretching across Croatia that sees a seemingly increasing number of young people searching for jobs abroad, tportal.hr has published an interview with British journalist, Brian Gallagher, editor of Croatia Business Report portal.
While very high unemployment figures (getting perilously close 22%) in Croatia certainly present themselves with urges to “look for greener pastures” for jobs elsewhere, this interview will hopefully reach many and turn the politics of job creation in Croatia inwards and slow their channeling outwards (palming the problem off across the borders). Indeed the same could be said for all European Union countries where the unemployment levels are creating a real, present and immediate endangerment of the future in which one of the basic human rights – the right to work – will cease to exist for all adults unless countries, including Croatia take a hard look at themselves and make job creation an absolute priority.
INTERVIEW By: Marita Arslani, tportal.hr news portal
(Translated into English by: Ina Vukic)
Immigrants from East Europe during the eighties and the nineties were often well accepted in Western countries. Most were educated, with good work habits, and their goal was, after arriving in the West, to try and create some better and more decent life for themselves and their families. The West accepted them with both hands as, besides being people who did the jobs for which the Western countries had difficulties in finding people who would do those jobs, they were, at the same time, a cheap workforce. It looked as though all were winners. Immigrants often were not able to choose and, so, they agreed to all sorts of conditions, but they did, nevertheless, somewhat achieve their dream, even if that was just fleeing from some Communist country. Western employers got cheap and good workers, families could get a nanny for 350 Kuna per week or a cleaner for some hundred Kunas and everything appeared ideal.
But, in the meantime, the situation has changed. The crisis has spread, there are less and less jobs and money, and in parallel, with the lack of money the hysteria around migrants who are “taking the bread” off the people in European Union countries grows. Such panic is these days visible in Great Britain and somewhat in Germany, where the reportedly anticipation of a rush of Romanians and Bulgarians is expected at the end of this year, as that is when the limitation placed upon how many immigrants from there can come to work in Great Britain ends.
Briefly, from 2014, anyone from Romania and Bulgaria can come and work in Great Britain. This was an adequate reason for the media there to commence an avalanche of discussions about the issue and, as one would expect, they are exaggerating, of course. It’s not, of course, a secret that Great Britain is attractive for immigration, but the campaign with which the British are sending messages to the Romanians and Bulgarians to stay at home, because they will not like Britain, has turned into an absurdity. And while the main media outlets threaten the British with the immigration bugbear, due to which the local population will only have damage on their hands, the voice of rational analysts and of those who know the British circumstances can hardly be heard. Brian Gallagher, the editor of Croatia Business Report, says that the British fear is partly justified.
Gallagher emphasises how, in 2004, when Great Britain opened its door for the first time to new members of the European Union, it was envisaged that about 13 thousand people per year come to the Island. However, in eight years, that figure has grown to an unbelievable 600 thousand, and so the fear from a large number of immigrants is, in part, understandable. But, when there’s talk about domestic population losing their jobs because of them, Gallagher claims differently.
“Such claims, i.e. that immigrants from Eastern Europe are taking jobs from the British, are large exaggerations. It’s likely that such things exist in some jobs, but most people from Eastern Europe work in service provision activities. I rarely hear the British accent from waiters in coffee shops. People from Eastern Europe perform that job brilliantly, pay is not bad, and they put a great deal of effort into their job and it’s not unusual for them to advance in it. That’s because they work well. The seven-year restriction, which is valid to the end of this year for Romania and Bulgaria, is most likely awaiting Croatia, too. Although, given the referendum about the EU that’s being announced here, who knows what will happen by then”, says Brian Gallagher.
The discontent of the British about the large number of immigrants stems from the fact that they have a large number of young people who are unemployed. It’s hard to attribute this trend to immigration, though.
“Business people here often complain that our young people are not educated well and that they cannot be employed. However, some rather choose social welfare over work. Some think they’ll become pop-stars or football players, and that’s why immigrants are more desirable as workers. Employers value their work ethics much more. Youth unemployment is a large problem in Great Britain, but the reason for it are not the immigrants”, said Gallagher, convincingly.
Immigration problem is obviously more of a political than an economic problem, and the proposal to allow unlimited entry only to the highly educated immigrants has suffered big criticisms as morally questionable.
“Those who support mass immigration mainly come from the middle liberal class. They like foreign restaurants, cheap nannies and cleaners, and are known for their avoidance of living in areas largely settled by immigrants. That is so hypocritical and many people are annoyed by it”, says Gallagher.
Given that searching for a job abroad has lately gathered momentum in Croatia it’s to be expected that London will become one of the destinations where, those that can, those looking for jobs, will go to. But there is no doubt, in order to go to the Island and obtain a job there is much more to go through than simply purchasing airfare. Those who travel often to Great Britain always hear two questions at the border: “How long are you staying? Surely you leave in ten days?” Hence, the fear of foreigners who will anchor themselves in Great Britain starts even before you get to see the Piccadilly Circus.
“As far as Croatia is concerned, the texts about immigration to Britain I publish are widely read, and I conclude from that that Croats are very interested in coming here. However, I do not think that Croats will rush to here. The London’s Croatian community is very small, one of the smallest and Croats who work here are largely highly educated and have a good reputation. I think that Germany is much more attractive to Croats because there is a larger and better-networked Croatian community there”, Gallagher emphasises and recommends that, once we enter the EU, we do not repeat the same mistake as the majority of European countries.
“You should keep a good immigration control and in doing so you will avoid a considerable number of problems. But you need to do that in a way where you invest in the education of your people and pay them well for the work they do. Immigration is a fast solution for business, and it’s no long-term solution”, Gallagher concludes.