EXODUS OF EUROPE’S YOUNG
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The Baltic States, Poland, Ukraine, and other European nations are struggling to survive the flight of the young, who lured by the promise of work migrate to the longer established European Union nations.
In February American automotive parts producer, Delphi Packard announced that it was shutting its factory in the south west of Romania: It can’t get enough workers to enable production. The 700 or so workers who were employed in the factory will swell the ranks of the unemployed or, more likely, join millions of countrymen who have gone abroad in search of work.
Like the Baltic States and Ukraine, Romania is bleeding. It has become a country populated mainly by the old and children. Working-age adults are thin on the ground. And land prices have slumped, says a September 2018 report by Colliers International. Properties in Bucharest are just 50 per cent of their 2008 values just one year after Romania joined the EU. “The kids have left,” one farmer sighed to Haslam. “My son is driving a delivery truck in Peterborough, England.”
Since Romania became part of the EU in 2007, 3.7 million Romanians have left to work abroad. In 2007 the working age population amounted to 14 million, so around a quarter of the country’s workers have packed their bags. Many of those who left did so after 2014 when all restrictions on movement for work within the EU were lifted.
The result was an outpouring of workers including skilled workers, too. One of the most acute areas of labour shortage is in medicine. Between 2011 and November 2013 fully a third of Romania’s hospital doctors left the country. Professor Vasile Astarastoae, president of the Romanian College of Physicians, says it is ‘a major crisis”. In many rural towns and villages, there are no doctors at all.
Viorel Husanu, president of national healthcare union Sanitas, told the news agency Agerpres that half of Romania’s doctors had left, 14,000 of them, along with 28,000 nurses. They were joined by 43,000 pharmacists. Estimates suggest that the bulk of the doctors have gone to Germany, France, and Britain.
A third of hospital positions in the country are lying vacant. In March this year, the government responded by raising medical salaries by 70 per cent. Romanian doctors will still be able to earn two to three times as much by working in France, Germany, and Britain, for example.
Around 20,000 researchers now work abroad, proportionately, as large a loss as the flight of doctors. These include many of Romania’s best scientists, which makes it harder for those left behind to gain science funding from the EU.
300,000 young Romanians have chosen to study abroad, in search of better education and better job prospects after they graduate. With its skilled workers lured abroad and its economy severely damaged, Romania has become almost totally dependent on the EU. Most of its public funding, 70 per cent comes from the EU’s regional funds.
The EU dubbed ‘the destroyer of nations’ is turning Romania into a wasteland, and the worst is yet to come, according to the United Nations. It forecast last year that the country’s population, currently around 19,700,000, will fall to 16,400,000 by 2050 and below 12,100,000 by 2100.
When the financial crisis of 2008 struck, Romania was hit hard. Cap in hand, Romania asked for €20 billion to keep itself afloat. The European Commission, European Central Bank, International Monetary Fund, having first asset-stripped Europe’s bankrupt economies, was happy to oblige – at a price.
As in Greece: workers’ rights, both individual and collective, were savagely cut and new provisions made it easier for employers to hire and fire, as well as introduce flexible employment contracts. Public sector salaries were slashed by a quarter, along with reductions in benefits.
MICHAEL WALSH is an internationally acclaimed journalist, author, and broadcaster shunned by liberal-left corporate media. He is the author of EUROPE ARISE and 51 other book titles.
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