Germany and Austria delayed free immigration from the Eastern European Union states for six years. Other EU countries began the free movement of labor from countries like Poland, Czech Republic and Hungary much earlier. German and Austrian labor unions particularly feared being flooded with cheap Polish plumbers and other craftspersons.
The six years are up, and there are few Polish plumbers in sight in Germany. Even though Germany is undergoing a shortage of skilled labor, German firms have little success in recruiting in Poland and Hungary. Polish and Hungarian workers have concluded their own economies are more dynamic and offer them more promising careers. In Germany and Austria, they do not earn well, and their living conditions are better at home. Polish workers in particular are reluctant to leave an economy that is growing rapidly.
Poland and Germany show how easily our illegal immigration problem could be solved by dynamic growth south of the border. If Mexico, El Salvador, and Columbia could match Poland’s growth, their citizens would stay put to take advantage of more rewarding careers at home.