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Aug 7, 2006
Italy welcomes Polish workers
- Maria Theresa S. Samante Email this article

Italy has now opened its door and welcomes Polish workers to work in the country and has dropped its restrictions on labor migration from the new Central European Union countries.

 

This is the result of the new law passed by the new center-left government in Italy. Migrant workers from the eight central European members of the European Union (EU) will now be allowed to work in Italy just the same ways as any other EU citizen.

 

Aside from that, Italy will also take steps to improve the situation of illegal immigrants by allowing a quota of 350,000 to legalized their status. This decision was made after trafficking of Poles for working in slave-like condition has been exposed in southern Italy.

 

 For the Italian economy, I don't know if the benefits will be as apparent as it was for England and Ireland. England and Ireland have the advantage of speaking English, and a lot of Polish workers speak English. So it draws higher skilled workers, which are useful for the economy. The wages are also higher in those economies. The Italians have a large base of unemployed people in their own country, in southern Italy. So I don't expect that it would be the same kind of drawing power into Italy that you've had into Ireland and Britain. Which means that the economic impact on Poland isn't going to be as big either. Obviously for those individual workers, there is an enormous personal benefit,” said Jan Cienski.

 

“Although the migration flow is fairly large, it hasn't been hugely disruptive to the local economies, and there have in fact also been fairly tangible benefits as well, which is why you have the economies like Finland, Portugal, Spain and Greece who also agreed to drop their restriction on Central European labour, and why Italy is following suit. I think the message of what happened in Britain and Ireland is that the economic impact is not enormous, and it is fairly positive. So the Polish Plumber fear turned out to be overblown,” added Cienski.

Although there are worries regarding migration of Polish workers in
Italy but depending on further developments, it might lead to both economical and cultural benefits for Poland.

 

 People who are going to abroad are relatively young, and they are premarital and well educated. We are not thinking only about people with higher education like doctors or engineers, specialists in the area of IT, but also a lot of fully qualified people in the area of construction, nurses, drivers, they are looking for new opportunities in the European Union. I hope, that at least part of those people will earlier or later come back to Poland, and they will bring new habits, I would say new experiences to our culture, to our reality,” said Sociologist Piotr Kwiatkowski.

The opening of the Italian labor market marks a new step towards the integration of
Poland and other Central European countries into the EU in both economical and political terms.


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