Coordinated by Roberta PACE, Alain PARANT

 

The Balkans and the EU: recent trends of a Mediterranean migration

Corrado BONIFAZI

CNR-IRPPS, Rome

 Massimiliano CRISCI

CNR-IRPPS, Rome

 Cristiano MARINI

ISTAT, Rome

Anna SANMARTIN

Centro Reina Sofía sobre Adolescencia y Juventud, Madrid

 

Abstract :Today the Balkans represent the only emigration area of Mediterranean Europe. The tight link between the Balkans and the European Schengen check-free area have certainly affected migration dynamics in the last years by favouring some flows and slowing down some others. The fluctuations of the process of enlargement and the emergence of new priorities are changing the enlargement roadmap. Some authors argue that the crisis is relegating the region to the outermost circle in a multi-speed Europe – the periphery of the periphery. The aim of the article is to analyse recent migration dynamics from the Balkans towards Europe to evaluate how this process was affected by EU policies and how Balkan migrants were integrated in the labour markets of destination countries. The EU enlargement process deeply affected migration trends in the area during the years 2000s and in the last years a reduction of inflows directly proportional to the effect of the economic crisis on national production systems took place.

 

Keywords : Balkans, Mediterranean Migration, EU Migration, EU enlargement process.

1.                   INTRODUCTION

 

The Balkans is an extremely complex area with different scenarios as to economic development, recent migration history and formal relationships with the European Union and the Mediterranean region.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall, this region has experienced restless and difficult years; nowadays all Balkan countries are either member of the EU or candidate and potential candidate countries and have therefore adapted their national and legislative frameworks to the EU acquis communautaire.

The Balkans are a geographical priority in the Stockholm Programme and in the bilateral dialogues between the EU and neighbouring countries, as expressed in the "Agreements with third countries", and specifically addressed in the fighting against corruption and organised crime of the enlargement process. In fact, informal economic activity, organised crime and trafficking of aliens are widespread in the region[1]. Moreover, corruption, scarce protection of human rights, lack of strong institutions and of an efficient and independent judicial system, remain unresolved issues, especially in countries like Bosnia and Herzegovina and Albania[2].

Although nowadays the enlargement is still one of the European Commission priorities, the urgency of solving the economic and financial crisis remains the main priority of the European agenda. The current scenario in Europe is showing movements in different directions in relation to the migration agreements and the process of EU enlargement. For instance, during 2011, following the sharp increase of unemployment rates, Spain restricted the inflows of Romanian workers and Spanish authorities stated that the country did not have the capacity to absorb any new inflows of workers[3]. The fluctuations of the enlargement process and the emergence of new priorities are therefore changing the enlargement roadmap. Indeed, some authors argue that the crisis is relegating the region to the outermost circle in a multi-speed Europe – the periphery of the periphery[4].

The tight link between the Balkans and the European Schengen check-free area have certainly affected migration dynamics in the last years by favouring some flows and slowing down some others. Today the Balkans represent the only emigration area of Mediterranean Europe.

The aim of the present study is to analyse recent migration dynamics from the Balkans towards Europe to try and evaluate how this process was affected by EU policies and how Balkan migrants were included in the labour markets of destination countries[5]. The first chapter of the paper is devoted to a description of the political framework, taking into account the EU enlargement agenda and the Balkans’ migration policies. In the second part of the paper migration trends from the Balkans to the EU since the beginning of the century are considered, with a focus on the period of time immediately after the beginning of the economic crisis. Subsequently, in order to evaluate the impact of Balkan migration towards EU receiving countries and its possible future developments, the inclusion of these migrants into the Italian labour market is analysed. The choice of Italy is due to the fact that it is one of the main destinations of recent Balkan migration and because it hosts two large Balkan communities: one from a country involved in the EU enlargement process (Romania) and one from a country not included in this process (Albania). As a matter of fact, this situation makes the Italian case a really interesting example of the recent development of Balkan migration and, above all, of the impact of the EU enlargement and of the economic crisis on this phenomenon. Finally, some considerations are made to highlight the main trends of this Mediterranean migration and speculate on its possible future evolution.

  

2.         THE EU AND THE BALKANS: ENLARGEMENT PROCESS AND  MIGRATION POLICIES

 

During the last decade policies and laws on migration in the Balkans countries have been deeply affected by their inclusion into the European integration process. For this reason, it is deemed useful to recall in the present paragraph the main EU agreements providing the guidelines for the adaptation of the legal framework, so as to shortly focus on the individual progress of each country. The enlargement process is part of the global strategy guiding the European work, which relies on some pillars, as expressed in a set of community documents adopted as of 2005.

The Global Approach to Migration and Mobility (GAMM), adopted in 2005 and renewed in November 2011, recognises the need that a longer-term, more balanced and sustainable policy framework should be adopted to address the geographic and thematic priorities of the EU[6]. The EU and its Member States should develop strategies and programmes that address migration and mobility, foreign policy and development objectives in a coherent and integrated way. Furthermore, among its thematic priorities, it is stressed how the "good governance of migration and mobility of third countries nationals" can create value on a daily basis for the development of millions of people, increase the EU competitiveness and enrich European societies. Without well-functioning border controls, lower levels of irregular migration and an effective return policy, it will not be possible for the EU to offer more opportunities for legal migration and mobility. 

The Stockholm Programme, adopted by the European Council in December 2009, sets the priorities for developing the European policy areas of freedom, security and justice within the next five years, and stipulates that the EU will develop a genuine common migration policy consisting of new and flexible frameworks for the admission of legal immigrants[7]. This enables the EU to adapt to increasing mobility and to the needs of national labour markets. The prevention and reduction of irregular immigration in line with the Charter of Fundamental Rights is equally important for the credibility and success of EU polices in this area. To respond to this global challenge the EU requires genuine partnership with third countries of origin and transit and the incorporation of all migration issues in the comprehensive policy framework expressed by the GAMM.

Finally, among the initiatives proposed in 2010 by "Europe 2020. A strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth", the "agenda for new skills and jobs" is interesting to modernise labour markets and empower people by developing their skills throughout the lifecycle with a view to increase labour participation and better match labour supply and demand, including through labour mobility. In order to do this, it is necessary to facilitate and promote intra-EU labour mobility and better match labour supply and demand with appropriate financial support from the structural funds, notably the European Social Fund (ESF), and to promote a forward-looking and comprehensive labour migration policy which would respond to labour markets priorities and needs in a flexible way.

Within this European context, the Balkans are developing close partnerships and cooperation with the EU on migration and mobility. The Prague Process, endorsed at a ministerial level by 49 States in April 2009, supported by the principles of the "Building Migration Partnerships" joint declaration, and consistent with the GAMM, establishes the following main areas of cooperation: preventing and fighting of illegal migration; readmission, voluntary return and sustainable reintegration; legal migration with special emphasis on labour migration; integration of legally residing migrants; migration, mobility and development.

Romania and Bulgaria completed their path of European integration and became Member States with the EU enlargement in January 2007. In October 2011 European Parliament members approved a resolution urging all EU Member States to allow Bulgaria and Romania to join the Schengen border check-free area because both had reached the criteria for successful conclusion of the Schengen evaluation process. However, European Union home affairs ministers postponed the decision on admitting both countries to the EU Schengen visa zone, to 2014[8].

Romania is primarily a country of emigration[9] but, as the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) notes, assuming a sustained trend of economic growth, a deepening of labour shortages, and an expanding ageing population, could promote a future immigration of foreign workers into the Romanian labour market. Trying to make the management of immigration more effective and in line with EU policies, the Romanian government adopted its 2007-2010 National Strategy on Immigration[10]. According to the Accession Agreements, Romania should pass through several stages to achieve the free movements of workers within the European Union, for a maximum period of seven years. On December 2011, Italy lifted its transitional restrictions completely, but Spain, citing the increase in the level of unemployment, maintained the restrictions until 2014. Starting from January 2014, the European laws guarantee the right of Romanian and Bulgarian workers without a working permit in any EU country, including Spain.

Bulgaria is also a predominantly emigrant rather than an immigrant country[11]. In 2008 it adopted the first "Strategy for Immigration and Integration" (2008-2015) that defines two strategic aims: attracting Bulgarian nationals and non-nationals of Bulgarian origin to permanently establish or settle in Bulgaria; pursuing a modern policy for receiving third-country nationals with a view to contributing to the development of Bulgarian economy and effectively regulating and controlling migration. In 2010 Bulgaria adopted a new strategy, "The National Strategy on Migration, Asylum and Integration" (2011-2020).

With respect to Western Balkans, cooperation on migration policy issues with the EU is part of the Stabilisation and Association Process that allows any country to become a candidate for EU membership at the end of a negotiation process concluded on an individual basis.

The main focus of cooperation with the EU has been on irregular migration, while labour migration flows are currently not at the centre of migration concerns in the region[12]. Therefore, efforts and initiatives have concentrated on raising the institutional capacity to control and protect the borders in the region, as well as on fighting organised crime and the smuggling and trafficking of aliens.

Notwithstanding the common characteristics of the Balkan area, each individual country shows a specific situation and only in some cases the transformation from emigration to immigration country has already started.

Croatia initiated the accession negotiations with the EU in 2005, signed the Accession Partnership in 2007 and was the first country to complete the process of association, becoming the 28th Member State in July 2013. Thanks to the political stabilisation and the socio-economic recovery at the beginning of the 21st century, the country is now turning from a purely emigration into an immigration and emigration country. Today, the main challenge for the Croatian migration policy is to match the inflow with internal labour market needs.[13]

Albania has been a potential candidate country since 2009. Albanians, among other transition populations, are the most inclined to leave their country. According to governmental official data, 30% of total population was living abroad in 2005, induced by high unemployment rates and severe household poverty[14].

Albanian migration patterns are characterised by high volatility and a high degree of repeating or circular migration. In 2005, the Albanian Government adopted the National Strategy on Migration and the National Action Plan on Migration, both of which were drafted with the assistance of IOM and the EC, and financed under the CARDS Programme (Community assistance for reconstruction, development and stabilisation). The main dimensions of Albanian labour migration policy are:  addressing the root causes of emigration through economic development and job creation efforts; limiting irregular and promoting regular emigration; protecting Albanian citizens abroad. Bosnia and Herzegovina has been a potential candidate country since 2008. The objectives of its migration policy were stated in the Migration and Asylum Strategy and the 2008–2011 Action Plan. This policy stipulates to develop a quality system for border management, visa regime, immigration and asylum and combating trafficking of aliens, both in accordance with EU standards as well as with the migration trends and realities of the country today. Recently, the European Commission has described the situation with Bosnia and Herzegovina at a standstill in the European integration process[15].

The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYRM), an official candidate for EU accession since 2005, signed the Accession Partnership in 2008. It is a typical emigration country, and remains mainly a transit country, including for irregular migration. The policy on diaspora therefore occupies a significant place in the country’s evolving migration policy (2009–2014 country’s migration policy). While the country is still undergoing social and economic transitional adjustments, relevant progress has been made in the field of migration management and the protection of migrants’ rights. Therefore, Macedonia has gained the country visa-free regime with all countries of the Schengen Area since December 2009.

Montenegro has been a potential candidate country since 2006 and submitted its application for EU membership in 2008. As a result of its economic development, it attracts numerous workers from neighbouring countries. In 2007, regularly employed non-nationals holding valid working permits accounted for over 9% of the country’s population, which makes Montenegro a significant destination for labour migration flows within the Western Balkan region. Montenegro´s Migration Strategy and Action Plan was adopted in 2008. The presence of seasonal migrants concentrated in tourism, catering and agriculture, is nowadays an important characteristic of the Montenegrin labour market.

Serbia submitted its application for EU membership in 2008 and received a full candidate status on 1st March 2012.  With the adoption of a National Migration Strategy in 2009, a National Strategy for the Reintegration of Returnees and a National Strategy to Fight Illegal Migration, the Government has taken advanced steps in managing migration. It also adopted the Law on Foreigners (April 2009) and the National Strategy and Action Plan (2009-11) on Combating Human Trafficking[16]. Labour migration policy is not an immediate issue in Serbia’s migration policy development as a whole. There are other more important issues, as the control of irregular migration and trafficking of aliens, to find solutions for the pressing issue of refugees and internally displaced persons, or the strengthening of border protection and security.

In the case of Kosovo, in 2008 the EU concluded the European Partnership Agreement with Serbia, including Kosovo/UNSCR 1244. Consequently, Kosovo/UNSCR 1244 is de facto treated as a potential candidate country and separate progress reports on its development are being prepared. A number of basic legal acts for the development of a future migration policy have been issued, as the Law on Foreigners (December 2008), the Law on Integrated Border Management and Border Security (May 2008), the Law on Asylum (May 2008), and the 2009-2012 National Strategy and Action Plan on Migration, to "prevent and reduce all forms of illegal migration, as well as to promote legal and circular migration by developing/implementing legal and institutional mechanisms".

The Balkans are substantially passing through different stages of the community integration path, also due to their different specific features from an historic, cultural and socio-economic point of view. Some countries like Romania and Croatia are beginning to attract migration flows from abroad, while others like Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia still face serious problems in controlling and opposing irregular migration and trafficking of aliens.

Although, as seen before, the overall picture of adaptation of the Balkan legal framework to community standards is still very heterogeneous, the following paragraph will highlight the role of the EU enlargement process as one of the factors which have affected migration trends in that area during the 21st century.

 

3.         MAIN TRENDS OF RECENT BALKAN MIGRATION

During the last two decades, the volume and features of Balkan migration towards EU countries, especially those on the northern Mediterranean shore, have been largely affected by the succession and interweaving of a series of wars and political-economic events: from the war in former Yugoslavia to the conversion of southern European countries into immigration areas, from the involvement of central and eastern European countries in the EU integration process to the recent economic crisis. 

During the 1990s, a relevant share of migration flows was made up of refugees and asylum seekers escaping from the wars which would brought about the dissolution of former Yugoslavia. Migration was mainly directed towards Germany, Switzerland, Austria and the Scandinavian countries. In more detail, between 1991 and 1996, the volume of Balkan immigration doubled in Germany, Switzerland and Sweden and registered a remarkable increase in Austria. In Germany the decrease of residents from the Balkan area is due to the reintegration of refugees and to the restrictions on the asylum right, while in Sweden it is also linked to the beginning of the naturalisation process[17].

Between the end of the 1990s and the early 2000s direct migration towards the southern part of the EU strengthened. It was mainly labour migration and related family flows with Albania, Romania and to a lesser extent Bulgaria as main countries of origin. If migration to Italy is considered, in that period Albania and Romania became the two main Balkan countries of origin: Albanians had surpassed immigrants from the countries of former Yugoslavia in 1996 and Romanians had surpassed them in 2000. These migration flows took place within the framework of a sharp increase in labour immigration in Europe, with south-eastern European countries as main actors. The weight of Balkan immigration on the presence of non-nationals in Southern European countries became well differentiated. Greece seemed to be involved especially in a regional migration model, while Italy and Spain depended upon a larger area of origin, even if the percentages of Balkan immigration were rapidly increasing in these two countries.

At the beginning of the years 2000s the main European receiving country of Balkan immigration was Germany. In 2001, on the wave of the refugee emergency, nearly 1.7 million people from the Balkans lived there, equal to 22.9% of total residing non-nationals (see Table 1). Among these persons, citizens from former Yugoslavia before 1992 were quite numerous (1.1 million), as were Croatians (217,000) and Bosnians (156,000). In the same year, a relevant amount of Balkan citizens coming mainly from former Yugoslavia was also registered in Austria (over half a million, equal to 74.3% of total non-national residents), in Greece (half a million, equal to 65.5% of total non-national residents), with a very large share of Albanians, in Italy (350,000, equal to 23.9% of total non-national residents), mainly Albanians, in Switzerland (151,000, equal to 10.6% of total non-national residents) in equal proportion of Macedonians, Bosnians and Croatians.  At the beginning of the millennium Balkan migrants represented instead a completely marginal share of non-national immigration in Spain (3.6%) corresponding to only 42,000 units.

The EU countries that received more migration flows from the Balkans during the years 2000s were Germany, Italy, Spain and Greece (see Table 2). Eurostat supplied data on the latter country only for the two-year period 2006-2007. For this reason, it is not possible to fully understanding the effects of the enlargement policy and of the economic crisis. However, in 2007 in Greece there were 115,000 entries from the Balkans, mainly from Albania (100,000).

Italy and Spain show a similar trend of migration flows, characterised by a very strong increase in the first part of the century that reached its peak in 2007 with the access of Romania and Bulgaria in the EU, and by a subsequent, steady decrease of flows linked to the economic crisis which was particularly felt in the Iberian country. In the period 2001-2007 there was a steady and remarkable increase of Balkan migration flows to Spain, passing from 36,000 units in 2001 to 230,000 units in 2007 (+194,000 units). During this period, the main country of origin was Romania, with nearly 200,000 entries in 2007, and the share of immigration from the Balkans on total inflows increased from 9.2 to 25%. In the 2008-2012 period the economic crisis hit Spain hard, raising the unemployment rate from 8.2% in 2007 to 26.1% in 2013. Among the measures taken by the Spanish Government, restrictions to labour migration flows from the two large Balkan countries which had recently joined the EU were enforced, thus generating the immediate effect of strongly reducing migration from the Balkans, which sank to 73,000 units, with a decrease equal to 157,000 entries compared to the previous year.  During the last years in Spain a further decrease in migration flows has taken place, bringing them back to 2001 level (34,000 in 2012). The share of Balkan immigration flows on total inflows has instead halved as against the 2007 boom with a peak of 12.6% in 2012. Romania remains the main Balkan country of origin, however by 2012 its shares had decreased by seven times in just five years, accounting for 27,000 units.

The increase in migration flows in Italy has been even more robust, from 56,000 units in 2001 to 319,000 in 2007 (+263,000 units), though apparently less regular, with two peaks in the two-year period 2003-2004 due to the effect of regularisation of some categories of immigrant workers linked to 2002 Bossi-Fini Law.

Immigration flows from Romania accounted for the largest share also in Italy (271,000 units in 2007), while the share of flows from the Balkans remained little over 30% until 2006 to double in 2007 (61.9%). Italy was also affected by the global crisis, although to a lesser extent than Spain. Starting from 2008 immigration from the Balkans have constantly decreased, reaching 106,000 units in 2012 (-214,000 units compared to 2007), however more gradually than in Spain, also because at the end of 2011 the Italian Government decided the end of the transitional regime on labour migration of Romanians and Bulgarians. This is also the reason why flows are still consistent, nearly double than those registered in 2001, and Romanians continue to represent the largest share.

The share of Balkan immigration on total immigration has returned to the values registered in the early 2000s (32.9% in 2012). Despite the economic crisis, in Italy the overall value of immigration from abroad is higher compared to ten years before. During the years 2000s in Germany immigration from the Balkans has constantly decreased until Romania and Bulgaria accessed the EU, passing from 130,000 in 2001 to 54,000 in 2006. In 2007 Balkan immigration flows were close to 100,000 units and they continued to grow until 2012 when they were over 250,000 units, nearly half of which from Romania. The enlargement effect was quite evident, raising the share of Balkan immigration on total entries from 9.7% in 2006 to 23.4% in 2012.  The economic crisis did not affect German economy and it is possible that for this reason Germany attracted also immigrants that would have otherwise chosen countries on the northern Mediterranean shore.

In terms of stock, the dynamics of immigration flows during the years 2000s has led to a huge increase of Balkan citizens living in Spain, who passed from 42,000 units in 2001 to 925,000 in 2009, while the restriction of flows which took place in the last years observed determined a certain stability of these figures (see Table 2).

Overall in the years 2000s the share of Balkan residents in Spain on total non-residents has increased from 3.6% to 18.2%. In Italy there has been a steady increase in the number of immigrants, although this trend registered a slowing down as of 2009. In 2013 Balkans residents were over 1.5 million (36.1% of non-national residents) and since 2009 Italy is the country with the highest share of Balkan citizens, a position occupied until then by Austria where there were over 500,000 immigrants, until in 2001 there was a sharp reduction of this figure, followed later on by a substantial stability (between 320,000 and 350,000 units) in more recent years.

In Germany Balkan residents decreased in the early 2000s, passing from 1,667,000 units in 2001 to little over 1,000,000 in 2005, when they increased again following the enlargement. The share of Balkan residents has been stable around 15% of total non-nationals for several years. Between 2001 and 2008 there were around 150,000 units in Switzerland, however in 2009 this figure doubled (326,000 units) and then slowly decreased to 242,000 units in 2013.

After a very remarkable increase in the number of immigrants following the access to the EU, in 2013 Romanians became the most represented Balkan citizenship in Italy (951,000) and Spain (770,000), the second citizenship in Germany (219,000), the third in Austria (54,000) and Greece (47,000). Although to a lesser extent compared to Romanians, in the 2001-2013 period also Bulgarians marked a high increase of their presence in all the countries considered. The largest immigrant colonies can be found in Spain (147,000), Germany (127,000) and Greece (76,000). Croatia entered the EU in July 2013 but already in the early 2000s it represented the largest Balkan community in Germany (273,000 units in 2013) without showing high increase rates. Also Austria and Switzerland have a remarkable share of Croatian immigrants (59,000 and 32,000 respectively). 

Among the countries which have not yet fully entered the EU, Albania registered the highest stock of presences, especially in Greece (481,000) and Italy (438,000), where in 2013 Albanians represented the first and second Balkan community, respectively.

It is worth noting that compared to 2001 the growth of residents in Greece was much lower than in Italy. Serbian citizens are currently present especially in Germany (217,000) where they represent the second-largest Balkan community, in Austria (111,000) and Switzerland (99,000), countries where Serbians are instead the first-largest community from the Balkans. Bosnian residents are particularly numerous in Germany (164,000), slightly increasing during the years 2000s, differently from other countries such as Austria, Switzerland and Italy, where there was a reduction of the immigrant presence shortly after the war emergency in the 1990s. In 2013 the presence of Macedonians was more relevant in Germany (77,000), Italy (74,000) and Switzerland (62,000), however in the last few years a slight increase was registered only in these two Central Europe countries. Finally, the overall volume of citizens from Montenegro in the countries considered is quite limited, since they are mainly concentrated in Germany (17,000).

                After the regional conflicts and the consequent refugee emergency were over, the migratory wave coming during the 1990s from countries of former Yugoslavia came to a reduction. During the years 2000s, with the exception of Albanian presence in Italy, Romania and Bulgaria were the only countries to register a high increase in the number of immigrants in countries of Southern and Western Europe. The impact deriving from their access to the EU was evident and this growing trend had started already some years before 2007, especially in Spain. Similarly, the heavy impact of the economic crisis on immigration towards Spain and Italy from 2008 to 2012 is also self-explanatory. The reduction of inflows towards Spain was accelerated by the restrictive measures approved by the Spanish Government. The crisis did not hit Germany, which continued to attract increasing numbers of migrants from the Balkans, also those who would have moved towards Southern Europe until a few years before.

 


Table 1 – Non-national immigrants from former socialist countries of the Balkans to some European countries, 2001-12 (absolute values and percentages)

Country

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

Italy

55,6

51,0

147,8

124,6

88,5

77,8

319,0

232,9

151,2

130,8

117,7

105,7

% on non-nationals

32.1

31.5

34.8

31.6

31.3

30.5

61.9

46.9

37.2

30.8

33.2

32.9

of which:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Romania

17,3

16,5

78,4

66,1

45,3

39,7

271,4

174,6

105,6

92,1

90,1

81,7

Albania

27,7

24,5

49,3

38,8

28,4

23,1

23,3

35,7

27,5

22,6

16,6

14,1

Spain

36,2

64,9

88,7

125,7

127,9

154,5

230,2

73,0

52,5

61,1

61,7

34,4

% on non-nationals

9.2

14.7

15.0

19.5

18.7

19.2

25.0

12.9

14.4

18.5

18.4

12.6

of which:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Romania

23,3

48,3

69,9

103,6

108,3

131,5

197,6

61,3

44,1

51,9

50,8

27,3

Bulgaria

11,8

15,9

17,8

21,0

18,4

21,7

31,3

10,8

7,7

8,4

9,9

6,2

Greece

:

:

:

:

:

56,2

115,0

:

:

:

:

:

% on non-nationals

:

:

:

:

:

:

:

:

:

:

:

:

of which:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Albania

:

:

:

:

:

36,8

100,0

:

:

:

:

:

Bulgaria

:

:

:

:

:

13,2

8,1

:

:

:

:

:

Germany

130,3

92,7

85,3

80,0

70,0

54,3

96,4

103,7

120,4

167,0

203,7

252,5

% on non-nationals

19.0

14.1

14.2

13.3

12.1

9.7

16.8

18.1

16.7

20.9

21.3

23.4

of which:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Romania

20,1

24,0

23,8

23,5

23,3

23,7

43,9

48,2

57,3

75,5

97,5

120,5

Bulgaria

13,2

13,2

13,4

11,6

9,1

7,7

20,9

24,1

29,2

39,8

52,4

60,2

Austria

37,4

26,8

28,5

29,3

27,2

19,9

15,5

14,1

:

:

16,7

18,4

% on non-nationals

50.0

31.1

30.5

28.1

27.8

24.1

24.1

21.7

:

:

22.5

22.1

of which:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Romania

2,4

4,8

5,7

5,5

5,1

4,5

5,9

5,8

:

:

7,8

8,0

Bosnia and Herzegovina

6,0

4,9

5,4

5,4

4,6

3,2

2,0

1,8

:

:

2,2

2,3

Switzerland

17,5

12,4

10,8

10,0

8,8

8,5

3,9

9,2

8,9

6,9

5,6

5,9

% on non-nationals

17.8

12.0

10.9

9.9

8.9

8.0

2.7

5.7

6.4

5.0

4.5

4.7

of which:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FYR Macedonia

2,6

2,0

1,6

1,4

1,3

1,2

1,2

1,2

1,2

1,2

1,2

1,3

Romania

0,8

0,6

0,7

0,7

0,6

0,6

0,7

0,8

1,0

1,4

1,2

1,4

: Data not available

Source: Eurostat (Extracted on 10-04-2014); Italy 2001 and Germany 2009-12:

Population Register Data from the Italian National Institute of Statistics – Istat and the Federal Statistical Office of Germany (Statistische Bundesamt - Destatis).


Table 2 - Stock of non-national population from former socialist countries of the Balkans in some European countries, 1st January (absolute values in thousands)

Country of residence

Bulgaria

Croatia

Romania

FYR Macedonia

Albania

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Serbia and Montenegro

Total Balkans

% Balkans on total foreigners

Italy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2001

6,8

16,6

62,3

26,1

163,9

14,1

60,1

349,8

23,9

2005

15,4

20,7

248,8

58,5

316,7

22,4

58,2

740,7

30,8

2009

40,9

21,5

796,5

89,1

441,4

30,1

69,7

1489,1

38,3

2013

50,0

17,2

951,1

74,4

437,5

7,2

45,1

1582,6

36,1

Spain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2001

10,2

0,7

26,8

0,1

0,4

1,2

2,6

41,9

3,6

2005

83,4

1,6

287,1

0,4

1,0

1,8

3,4

378,6

11,2

2009

152,5

1,7

764,4

0,5

1,7

1,6

3,2

925,6

17,2

2013

147,3

1,5

769,6

0,6

1,7

1,4

3,3

925,5

18,2

Greece

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2001

35,1

0,2

22,0

0,7

438,0

0,3

3,8*

500,2

65,6

2005

:

:

:

:

:

:

:

:

:

2009

:

:

:

:

:

:

:

:

:

2013**

75,9

0,2

46,5

1,5

480,8

0,3

3,7

609,0

66,8

Germany

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2001

34,4

216,8

90,1

51,8

11,8

156,3

1106,2*

1667,4

22,9

2005

39,2

229,2

73,4

61,1

10,4

156,0

507,3

1076,6

14,8

2009

57,6

235,9

100,4

66,2

10,6

166,4

494,7*

1131,7

15,7

2013

127,0

236,9

219,1

77,2

12,1

164,2

316,5*

1153,0

15,0

Austria

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2001

4,2

60,7

17,5

13,7

1,6

108,0

322,3*

528,0

74,3

2005

6,3

58,6

21,3

16,0

1,5

90,9

136,8

331,4

42,8

2009

8,7

59,2

32,3

18,0

1,5

92,3

111,5

323,5

37,8

2013

14,2

58,7

53,5

19,3

1,7

89,8

112,2

349,4

34,9

Switzerland

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2001

1,7

43,9

2,7

56,1

1,1

45,1

0,0

150,6

10,6

2005

2,1

41,9

3,6

61,0

1,2

44,9

0,0

154,7

10,1

2009

2,4

36,3

4,5

59,9

1,1

37,6

184,4

326,2

19,5

2013

4,4

31,5

8,6

61,7

1,3

33,6

100,8

241,8

12,9

* Included Former Yugoslavia (before 1992); ** Data from Greece 2011 Census: Data not available

Source: Eurostat (Extracted on 10-04-2014)

 

4. BALKAN MIGRANTS IN THE LABOUR MARKET OF A DESTINATION COUNTRY: THE CASE OF ITALY

 

Since Italy became a net immigration country during the 1970s this phenomenon has increasingly grown, registering particularly high values in the last decade. For example non-national population in working age (15-64) has increased by 3 million units between 2001 and 2013, passing from 1 to 4 million (see Table 3). The weight of single citizenships has also varied strongly during the decade, as a consequence of much larger migration flows from some countries of origin rather than from others. The Balkans, for instance, were certainly one of the main starting points for migration towards Italy. The amount of population in working age from this area jumped from 276,000 units registered by the 2001 Census to 741,000 in 2006, a value which more than doubled in the following 7 years reaching 1,746,000 units. The violent, absolute growth of this population cohort strengthened its relative weight among non-nationals in Italy: in 2001 little over one out of four non-nationals in working age had Balkan citizenship, in 2006 they were 37.1% and in 2013 43.3%. Making a distinction by citizenship, the largest share of the absolute figure and nearly the total increase of the relative weight was due to Romanians, who increased in the period from 2001 to 2013 by 15 times, passing from 63,000 to 969,000 units, consequently registering a fourfold increase of their share on total  non-nationals, from 6 to 24%.

Foreign immigration in the last twelve years not only changed the size and structure of Italian population, but also played a central role in the new trends of the labour market. Overall, the number of non-national employed aged 15-64 has more than doubled from 2001 to 2006, passing from 631,000 to 1,345,000. This increase of over 1,700,000 employed has more than tripled the weight of non-national employed on total employed in Italy in the last decade, that passed from 3% to 10.6%. Similarly, the number of non-national job seekers increased in a proportional way: they were 87,000 in 2001 representing 3% of the total, while in 2013 they reached the amount of 492,000 units, about 15.8% of total unemployed in Italy. In the same time interval the presence of Balkan citizens within the overall non-national labour force in Italy increased remarkably: one million employed and 222,000 unemployed in 2013 versus 169,000 employed and 26,000 unemployed in 2001. In more detail, the relative and absolute weight of Romanian labour force grew heavily: there were additional 500,000 employed, from 42,000 to 618,000, while the number of additional unemployed units amounted to 111,000, passing from 8,000 to 119,000. Among the active population the percentage of Romanians on total non-nationals passed from one out of fifteen to one out of four, with almost identical share of employed and unemployed.

In the years under analysis, participation in the labour market of non-national population was always higher than that of native population, both due to the individual migration project and the need for a job as prerequisite to stay in a hosting country. The different occupational performance among the various non-national communities on the national territory is quite remarkable although lower than that between Italians and non-nationals.

 

With reference to the employment rate of non-nationals, two opposite trends were visible in the interval considered: first a growing trend from the Census to 2006; then a decreasing trend until 2013 due to the growing impact of the economic and financial  crisis.  In  2001  the  average  employment  rate  of  non-national  population in working age was 60.7%; in 2006 it reached 67.3%, while in 2013 it sank to 58.1%, showing a negative variation. The latter was however not due to the female component, which instead registered an increase in the employment rate: in the period from 2001 to 2006 there was an increase of 8 percentage points, from 42.8% to 50.7%, which was followed by a modest reduction of 1.4 points during the subsequent seven years. Conversely, the increase of the male component by 5 points in the first five-year period, from 79.0% to 84.2%, was nullified in the subsequent years and in 2013 the employment rate amounted to 67.9%.

 

 

Table 3 - Population in working age, employment and

 unemployment rates in Italy by citizenship, 2001-2013.

   

Country

2001

2006

2008

2013

M

F

TOT

M

F

TOT

M

F

TOT

M

F

TOT

Population in working age (15-64) (ab. values in thousands)

Romania

29

34

63

126

146

273

223

250

473

423

546

969

Albania

74

54

127

169

139

308

177

148

325

249

218

467

Other Balkan cs

47

39

86

91

68

160

93

81

173

162

127

310

Other countries

365

399

764

605

652

1.257

784

844

1.628

1.067

1.239

2.284

Total non-nationals

514

526

1.040

992

1.006

1.998

1.277

1.322

2.599

1.901

2.129

4.030

Employment rates (%)

Romania

84,9

50,8

66,4

89,5

56,6

71,9

84,4

60,9

72,0

71,0

58,2

63,8

Albania

79,8

30,3

59,0

83,6

36,5

62,4

83,5

36,8

62,2

65,0

33,0

50,1

Other Balkan cs

78,7

37,6

60,0

86,7

32,1

63,4

81,9

43,9

64,2

66,6

38,0

51,5

Other countries

78,4

44,3

60,6

82,8

54,4

68,1

80,8

54,0

66,9

67,5

49,4

58,2

Total non-nationals

79,0

42,8

60,7

84,2

50,7

67,3

81,9

52,8

67,1

67,9

49,3

58,1

Italians

65,7

42,0

53,8

69,8

46,1

57,9

69,5

46,8

58,1

64,5

46,2

55,3

Unemployment rates (%)

Romania

6,5

19,8

12,5

4,2

13,6

8,4

4,9

11,6

8,0

15,5

16,8

16,2

Albania

8,5

31,4

14,6

4,9

21,9

10,0

5,0

16,3

8,3

18,5

28,6

21,9

Other Balkan cs

7,6

21,1

11,9

5,6

32,3

13,1

5,7

17,6

9,8

15,9

28,2

19,2

Other countries

8,1

17,0

11,7

5,8

10,5

7,8

6,6

11,0

8,5

16,7

16,7

16,9

Total non-nationals

8,0

18,7

12,1

5,4

13,4

8,6

6,0

11,9

8,5

16,6

18,3

17,4

Italians

9,6

14,8

11,7

5,5

8,6

6,8

5,6

8,3

6,7

11,2

12,6

11,7

Source: Italian National Institute of Statistics – Istat, 2001 Census, 2006-2013 Labour Force Survey.

 

These average trends were also registered among citizens from the Balkans, though with different migration models. Work represents the main target for Romanians, both men and women, whose activity rates in 2013 were equal to 84% and 70%, respectively. For the female component from Albania and other Balkan countries inactivity represented instead the main condition, with rates equal to 54% and 47%, respectively.

In the years under analysis Romanians always showed the highest employment rates, especially among women. The difference between male employment rates among Romanians and Albanians never exceeded 6 percentage points, while that between Romanian and Albanian women was 20 points in 2001 and 2006 and increased up to 25 in 2013. Employment rates of men from Romania, Albania and other Balkan countries decreased sharply by 18-20 percentage points in the last seven years: Romanians passed from 89.5% to 71.0%, Albanians from 83.6% to 65.0% and citizens from other Balkan countries from 86.7% to 66.6%. It is noteworthy that the share of employed Romanian women increased also in the last five-year period reaching 58.2% in 2013. 

The highest variations in the last years were registered concerning unemployment rates. Among non-nationals, the share of male jobseekers on the total labour force tripled, from 5.4% to 16.6%, while it increased to a much lesser extent for the female component, whose unemployment rate in 2013 was equal to 18.3%. Male unemployment rates of Balkan citizens were very close to non-national average values; in 2013 the relative worst situation was registered among Albanians with 18.5%, while Romanians score the best results, with 15.5%, and the rest of the Balkans registered unemployment rates equal to 15.9%. As to the female component, there was a marked difference between women from the Balkans and the average non-national component, with the exception of Romanian women showing unemployment rate values equal to 16.8%, while Albanian women and women from other Balkan countries recorded 28%, 10 percentage points more than the non-national average values.

Within the Italian labour market, remarkable differences emerged as to the employment models of immigrants with different citizenships present on the National territory. First of all, it was confirmed that non-nationals had on average higher probability to be employed rather than jobless compared to Italian citizens[18], although the higher probability to be employed was more affected by structural characteristics such as gender, education level, age class, geographical area of residence and the position of the individual within the family. With regards to the difference between nationals and non-nationals, men showed higher employment rates than women, as did persons with higher educational levels compared to those with medium and especially those with low educational level; the same applied to adult population, that registered higher employment rates than persons aged less than 35, to residents in the Centre-North compared to those in the South and Islands, as well as to the various positions within the family (head of household, spouse or cohabitee of head of household, single persons) compared to children.

A logistic regression model used to compare the different non-national employment models by single citizenships or citizenship aggregates showed how, on average, the probability for a Romanian citizen to be employed was significantly higher than for other citizenships or groups of citizenships. Compared to the Romanian population, citizens from other Balkan countries and Albanians were at a maximum disadvantage (-41% both), while citizens from other European Union countries and other non-nationals not belonging to the European Union registered the lowest difference (-22% and 21%, respectively). Two different employment models of non-nationals by gender stood out. Men – whose probability to be employed was about three times higher than women’s – did not show significant difference as to the probability of being employed by citizenship; conversely, the employment condition of Romanian women was decidedly higher than that of women from other citizenship groups, with more than double probability compared to women from other Balkan countries and from Albania, as also was the probability of Romanian women to be employed, compared to both other non-national women from the European Union and other extra-EU countries, even if with less marked differences. The generational disadvantage of young women in terms of employment compared to working population aged 35 and over was more evident for non-national than for Italian women. Non-national men aged 15-34 showed a higher probability to be employed compared to older age groups with the same characteristics, especially with the same position within the family. Young non-nationals had less probability to be employed especially if their condition in the family was that of children. Residents from the richest and more developed geographical areas in the central and northern areas of the country showed decidedly higher employment probability than residents in the South and Islands, especially when the native component was considered. Much smaller differences, always in favour of residents in the central and northern areas of the country, were instead shown when the territorial comparison was uniquely referred to the non-national component. By higher educational level the probability to be employed increased significantly for both non-nationals and nationals, though for the latter to a lesser extent (there was no significant difference between male non-national university graduates and upper and post-secondary education diploma holders).

 

5.CONCLUSIONS

Among the diversity of migration realities of the Balkans in the 21st century, the main literature lists the following features: from forced migrations to returns, from ethnic to economic logic, from mass emigration to circular migration, and from emigration to immigration. If 10 million people moved during the decade 1990-2000, now return has become a viable alternative for the displaced. The reasons for moving have changed and have more to do with unemployment in the countries of origin and the search of economic improvements in destination countries. Movements are no longer one-way: circular migration today is a generalised practice in both gender and touches all professions - from seasonal workers to experts. Events as the prospects of integration in the EU region and emerging market economies are slowly helping to change the figures on emigration and immigration and attracting more people to the area[19].

To date, the Balkans still show very different adjustment levels from the EU standards required to complete the integration process. At a formal level, national legislations have been often integrated, however from a more substantial point of view many countries such as Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia and Serbia will have to take further steps, especially to fight irregular migration and trafficking of aliens. Other countries which recently joined the EU, such as Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia and candidate countries, such as Montenegro, have instead started the transition from emigration to immigration country.

The EU enlargement process deeply affected migration trends in the area during the years 2000s, as proven by the rapid and intense increase of flows from Bulgaria and, especially, from Romania.

Nonetheless, in the last years a reduction of inflows directly proportional to the effect of the economic crisis on national production systems took place. The impact on the labour market was very hard for Spain, which also adopted some robust measures against immigration, less hard for Italy, where the economic stagnation especially hit the demand for manpower in the industrial sector, irrelevant for Germany, whose economy continued to grow attracting further inflows also from the Balkans.

In some cases, as examined in detail for Italy, the Balkan component reached a remarkable weight also within the labour market, representing a high share of the entire non-national labour force. During these years access to the EU has certainly played an important role in favouring immigration flows. The case of Romanians in Italy is the most significant, especially if the evolution of this community is compared with the dynamics affecting the Albanian community during the same period.

Overall, the EU enlargement process has therefore deeply affected the migration dynamics from the Balkans and the integration of these migrants in their hosting countries. It is evident that migrations from this area will be increasingly affected in the future, not only by the global economic situation but also by demographic dynamics which are heavily slowing down emigration and by the economic situation deriving from integration in the EU, which could determine an analogous effect on migrations.  In other terms, it is much likely that in a not so far away future the Balkans will cease to be an emigration and transit area to become a fully immigration zone.

 

 

 

 

Bibliography

BALDWIN-EDWARDS, Martin, "Patterns of migration in the Balkans", Working Paper nº 9, Mediterranean Migration Observator, 2006.

BECHEV, Dimitar, “The periphery of the periphery: the western Balkans and the euro crisis”, Policy Brief nº 60, European Council of Foreign Relations, August 2012.

BONIFAZI Corrado, “International migration in the Balkans since the end of the Cold War: a general overview”, Alain Parant (ed.) Migrations, crises and recent conflicts in the Balkans, University of Thessaly Press, Volos, 2006.

BONIFAZI Corrado, RINESI Francesca, "I nuovi contesti del lavoro: l'immigrazione straniera", in M. Livi Bacci (a cura di), Demografia del capitale umano, Bologna, Il Mulino, 2010.

Bosnia and Herzegovina Council of Ministers, Migrations and Asylum Strategy, and Action Plan 2008-2011, 2008.

CATTANEO, Cristina, “Migrants' International Transfers and Educational Expenditure: Empirical Evidence from Albania”, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei, Working Paper nº 391, 2010.

EU, Building migration partnerships. Prague Ministerial Conference Joint Declaration, 2009.

EU, Action Plan Implementing the Stockholm Programme, (COM 171 final), 2010.

EU, Enlargement Strategy and Main Challenges 2010-2011 (COM  660 final), 2010.

EU, Europe 2020. A strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, 2010.

EU, Enlargement Strategy and Main Challenges 2010-2011 (COM  660 final), 2010.

EU, Global Approach to Migration and Mobility, (SEC 1353 final), 2011.

EU, Enlargement Strategy and Main Challenges 2013-2014 (COM 700 final), 2013.

GUILD, Elspeth, CARRERA, Sergio, “Labour Migration and Unemployment. What can we learn from EU rules on the free movement of workers?” CEPS Paper, Nº 46, February 2012.

IOM, The Republic of Croatia. Migration profile. October 2007.

IOM, The Republic of Montenegro. Migration profile. October 2007.

IOM, Migration in Romania. A country profile, 2008.

IOM, Migration in Serbia. A country profile, 2008.

KING, Russell, URUCI, Esmeralda, VULLNETARI, Julie, "Albanian migration and its effects in comparative perspective", Journal of Balkan and Near Eastern Studies, Volume 13, Number 3, September 2011.

KRASTEVA, Anna, Labour migration in Bulgaria 2004-2009, Centre for Refugees Migration and Ethnic Studies (CERMES), 2011.

KRASTEVA, Anna et al., Migrations from and to Southeastern Europe, Longo Editore Ravenna, 2010.

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MONTENEGRO GOVERNMENT, Strategy for Integrated Migration Management in Montenegro 2008-2013, 2008.

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SHIMA, Isilda, “Return migration and labour market outcomes of the returnees. Does the return really pay off? The case-study of Romania and Bulgaria”, FIW Research Reports 2009/10 N° 07, February 2010.

SORROZA, Alicia, "Estrategia de ampliación de la UE: principales retos (y oportunidades) 2010-2011" (ARI), Real Instituto Elcano, 2011.

SUCIU, Oana-Valentina, Migration and demographic trends in Romania: A brief historical outlook, CRCE 2010 Colloquium, 2010.

 

 



[1] Martin BALDWIN-EDWARDS, "Patterns of migration in the Balkans", Working Paper nº 9, Mediterranean Migration Observator, 2006.

[2] Alicia SORROZA, "Estrategia de ampliación de la UE: principales retos (y oportunidades) 2010-2011" (ARI), Real Instituto Elcano, 2011.

[3] Elspeth GUILD, Sergio CARRERA, “Labour Migration and Unemployment. What can we learn from EU rules on the free movement of workers?” CEPS Paper, Nº 46, February 2012.

[4] Dimitar BECHEV, “The periphery of the periphery: the western Balkans and the euro crisis”, Policy Brief nº 60, European Council of Foreign Relations, August 2012.

[5] The present study only considers Balkan countries with a state-planned economy in a recent past: Romania and Bulgaria (Eastern Balkans), Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Kosovo (Western Balkans).   

[6] EU, Global Approach to Migration and Mobility, SEC(2011) 1353 final.

[7] EU, Action Plan Implementing the Stockholm Programme, COM(2010) 171 final.

[8] In September 2011 the Netherlands and Finland announced their decision to veto Bulgaria's and Romania's Schengen accession, citing ongoing problems with corruption and organized crime. As enlargement of the Schengen zone requires the unanimous consent of its existing EU Members, the entry of both countries has been postponed.

[9] Circular or temporary migration, mainly economically motivated, represents the main migration pattern from Romania. The biggest migrant communities, from Italy and Spain, are usually made up of workers with previous experience, generated by internal domestic migration flows (see: SUCIU, Oana-Valentina, Migration and demographic trends in Romania: A brief historical outlook, CRCE 2010 Colloquium, 2010.).

[10] The document establishes the state policy on admission, residence, labour immigration, condition for granting protection, combating irregular migration, and removal from the territory of Romania of foreigners on illegal stay. This includes regulations on return of migrants, asylum seeking and integration of foreigners.

[11] The migration patterns of Bulgarian migrants indicate a circulatory trend among the low skilled. For instance, highly skilled workers, suffering from the shortage of labour demand and the labour market structure, are destined to longer durations of migration abroad in spite of their preference for temporary migration (see: SHIMA, Isilda, “Return migration and labour market outcomes of the returnees. Does the return really pay off? The case-study of Romania and Bulgaria”, FIW Research Reports 2009/10 N° 07, February 2010).

[12]  Marek et al. KUPISZEWSKI, Labour migration patterns, policies and migration propensity in the Western Balkans, The Central European Forum for Migration and Population Research, IOM, 2009.

[13] The 2007/2008 Migration Policy of the Republic of Croatia was adopted by the Croatian Parliament in June 2007 and focuses on labour immigration and its regulation. In view of demographic decline and ageing population, more sustained immigration flows will increasingly be required to meet the needs of the Croatian labour market (see: IOM, The Republic of Croatia. Migration profile. October 2007).

[14] In Albania, the last decade has seen a transition from temporary migration and seasonal moves, acted out under conditions of clandestine entry and irregular status, to an evolving semi-permanent settlement, characterised by family migration and the birth of the ‘second generation’ children of Albanian immigrants born in Greece or Italy. However, considerable seasonal migration to Greece continues and some researchers talk about semi-permanent settlement because it is still early to know if return migration might take place at some time in the future (see: CATTANEO, Cristina, “Migrants' International Transfers and Educational Expenditure: Empirical Evidence from Albania”, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei, Working Paper nº 391, 2010; KING, Russell, URUCI, Esmeralda, VULLNETARI, Julie, "Albanian migration and its effects in comparative perspective", Journal of Balkan and Near Eastern Studies, Volume 13, Number 3, September 2011).

[15] EU, Enlargement Strategy and Main Challenges 2013-2014 (COM 700 final), 2013.

[16] IOM, Migration in Serbia. A country profile, 2008.

[17] Corrado BONIFAZI, “International migration in the Balkans since the end of the Cold War: a general overview”, Alain Parant (ed.) Migrations, crises and recent conflicts in the Balkans, University of Thessaly Press, Volos, 2006.

[18] Corrado BONIFAZI, Francesca RINESI, "I nuovi contesti del lavoro: l'immigrazione straniera", in M. Livi Bacci (a cura di), Demografia del capitale umano, Bologna, Il Mulino, 2010.

[19] KRASTEVA, Anna, et al., Migrations from and to Southeastern Europe, Longo Editore Ravenna, 2010.