Group wants better relations with Bulgaria, Romania
The opening of the Dutch labour market to Romanian and Bulgarian jobseekers has received attention due to concerns about the state of European labour migration, but also due to employment chances in the Netherlands left unexploited, the WRR claims.
This statement comes from the first Policy Brief from the Scientific Council for Government Policy (WRR, Wetenschappelijke Raad voor het Regeringsbeleid) titled Romanian and Bulgarian labour migrants with better jobs, published on 27 January.
The Brief claims that the opening of the Dutch labour market to migrants from Romania and Bulgaria will increases the chance that the free flow of jobseekers will also, in the long term, prove socially and economically profitable.
It is arguably beneficial to invest in broader collaborative relations with countries sending the jobseekers, such as Romania and Bulgaria.
Up to now, according to the WRR Brief, the economic side-effects of European labour migration in The Netherlands and elsewhere in Europe has helped more than hindered, despite local policy makers such as Geert Wilders's frequent and notorious negative views on the subject.
Still, there are worries. The Romanians already present in the country have received more education than the Polish. But amongst them are also those with lower education. Bulgarians especially occupy a fragile place in the labour market. To avoid the tragedy of foreign labour history, it is necessary for the (national) government as well as employers to invest more in the socio-economic integration of European migrants.
Those who want to offer migrant workers at the lower end of the labour market better jobs, have to offer temporary contracts, temp jobs and freelance work. Employers welcome migrant workers, but the flexible structure of the Dutch labour market lures labour migration from the bottom out. Sometimes there is unfair competition with the established working population for social premiums. Next to maintaining established national and European law and order, new (European) initiatives are needed to counter such competition.
At the same time, opportunities at the top end of the labour market remain untaken. This, in spite of the view of many Dutch jobseekers who claim that they are losing their jobs because of migrant workers.
The portion of higher-educated migrants in the Netherlands is comparatively small: one fifth of all migrant workers. Investing in the knowledge infrastructure, by creating a welcoming climate and by offering careers at different levels, might help to attract the higher-educated. In this way, it might be possible to bind the many Romanian and Bulgarian students - at this moment 1050 and 1600 in number respectively - to the country. Some of these students are studying programs that the Dutch labour market is asking for.
A future-oriented policy vision on the European labour migration, with attention paid to worries and chances, the WRR states, also asks for wider cooperation between receiving and delivering countries. Next to the recent agreements on labour legislation, there should be an investment in wider economic relations like education arrangements for employees, and university ties and networks. Along with this, attention should be paid to the braindrain from dispatching countries. Such relations are also important to Dutch businesses. The Netherlands is one of the largest investors in both Romania and Bulgaria.
This WRR policy brief is constructed by dr. Monique Kremer and dr. Erik Schrijvers, both members of the scientific staff of the WRR. The brief builds on an earlier version that appeared in the WRR publication in better jobs. The future of labour migration in the European Union (2012).