Poland is slowly becoming a country of immigration, but is repeating the same mistakes that Western European countries made in their migration policies years ago, the article in the latest issue of the British weekly The Economist posited.
In an article titled “Poland is cocking up migration in a very European way”, the weekly notes that Poland, which is one of the most homogeneous countries of the European Union, welcomed more immigrants from outside its borders in 2018 than any other EU member state and five times more than Germany. The magazine predicts that the statistics for 2019 are likely to be similar.
The Economist pointed out that the migration was perceived as a political demarcation line within the EU, with an open West, which is opposed by a closed East. It was pointed out that Poland had found itself in a similar phase as Western European countries in the 1960s, when as a result of constantly falling unemployment they faced a lack of manpower.
According to The Economist, Poland’s first mistake is the conviction that temporary employees stay in the country temporarily, so issues such as their social security or their integration are not that important. The same mistake, it stressed, was made by Germany, when between the 1950s and 1970s economic boom period they invited about two million temporary workers from abroad, many of them never leaving the country.
The second mistake listed by the weekly is the assumption that since there are relatively few foreigners, except for Ukrainians, they will not be noticed by voters. In 2019, Poland issued 24,000 long-term visas for citizens of Nepal, India and Bangladesh. Meanwhile, in the 1950s, the UK welcomed around 16,000 migrants from the Caribbean area year by year, and it turned out to be enough to trigger racial unrest.
The Economist stated that there is a belief in Poland that you do not have to worry about the integration of Ukrainians, because they are culturally similar to Poles, but this does not protect against prejudices.
Furthermore, it was noted in the article that Poland will not be able to rely on a constant inflow, because with the improvement in the condition of the Ukrainian economy and loosening of immigration rules by Germany, it may no longer be an attractive target. Some companies have already begun to look for opportunities to fill gaps further afield, e.g. in Asia.
The Economist stated the Polish government avoids the discussion when it comes to migration problems, adding that ironically, "one of the most illiberal ruling parties in Europe runs one of the most liberal migration policies".