Migration and regional integration in Central Eastern and Southeastern Europe

Figuren auf einer Europakarte

Labour migration from Central Eastern and Southeastern Europe (CESEE region) has been substantial for decades and has created a large diaspora, which is also present in German-speaking countries. Following rising incomes and skilled labour shortages, some countries in the CESEE region start experiencing substantial immigration themselves, including return migration. This development is most notable in Poland. For a long time it was an emigration country, but since 2018 the trend has reversed.

Such shifts do not come without challenges. Our webinar on 5 May 2023 therefore brought together policymakers, researchers and representatives of migrant communities from different CESEE countries to explore which policies foster successful integration in destination countries, while keeping options for successful return migration open.

Andreas Schaal (OECD) gave an introduction into the topic and Anita Richter and Lisa Andersson (OECD) presented recent OECD-Data on migration from the CESEE region. This was followed by a lively discussion between Davit Adunts (Institute for Labour Studies, Germany), Ivan Brkljač (Point of Return, Serbia), Paweł Kaczmarczyk (University of Warsaw, Poland) and Reinis Lasmanis, (Society Integration Fund, Latvia). They explored the concept of „countries of origin“, with a particular focus on the differences between the Baltic States and other countries in the region. While emigrants from Baltic nations often leave their country only for a limited time, Poland has less re-migration. The reasons for migration were found to differ, with government structures being an important factor in emigration decisions, in addition to economic incentives.

The panelists also discussed how to strengthen ties between countries of origin and their diaspora as well as how to help members of diasporas to improve their network and organizational structures. To date, diasporas from Baltic states demonstrate more pronounced structures than those of other countries. Furthermore, the discussion highlighted the importance of language skills and work experience for labour market integration. Immigrants of CESEE countries are more often overly qualified for their jobs compared to other immigrants groups in the OECD because their qualifications are not formally recognized. Finally, the impact of remittances on both sending and receiving countries was considered as a significant point of discussion.



Further Readings:

Between Ukraine and Poland. Ukrainian migrants in Poland during the war. Analysis by Agata Górny & Pawł Kaczmarczyk for the Centre of Migration Research (February 2023)

Emigrant external voting in Central-Eastern Europe after EU enlargement. Analysis by Kacper Szulecki, Michał Kotnarowski and Ben Stanley for the Electoral Studies journal (February 2023)

Conference on European Economic Integration (CEEI) 2021: Recalibrating tomorrow’s global value chains – prospects for CESEE. Article by Robert Holzmann, Tomáš Slačík and Julia Wörz for the Empirica Journal of Euroean Economics (06. Januar 2023)