Why are Europeans Moving to Poland?

Immigration is an issue that never ceases to surprise. While western Europeans still half-fear the specter of the Polish plumber, it transpires that Poland has become a fully fledged destination country for immigrants in its own right. Why is this?

An increasing number of Europeans, especially from southern Europe, are moving to Warsaw and its surrounding areas in search of work. This is a trend that has emerged since 2010, and it has now been confirmed by research, which has found that 600,000 immigrants are now resident in the once communist city.

This is a small number for a country with a population of 40 million, but it is significant considering that, until very recently, the Polish economy was propped up by remittances sent from Polish expats abroad.

This in itself is a fitting historical victory for a country that has long been caught between the grip of Soviet Russia and German power. It is a shift in status that has been brought about by economic changes. Poland, with an annual growth of about 2%, is one of the few EU member states that has withstood the current economic crisis.

Its robust economy has been strengthened by its diversity of investments in both traditional and highly innovative industries. Some sectors need physical labor, particularly in agriculture, and this was the domain of Ukrainian migrant workers. But highly qualified people are also needed in the outsourcing sector, which is now one of the primary drivers of Poland’s economic success.

This is what allows Warsaw to play a leading role in the battle to attract international talent

As much has been confirmed by the increasing numbers of immigrants arriving in Poland, where the cold bites but opportunities abound. For young graduates, often with a Master’s degree, from Rome, Madrid, Athens or Porto, Warsaw offers the opportunity of finding the work they are qualified for.

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This is how the carousel of immigration works. The music and direction change according to the economy, in Europe and the rest of the world. On the other hand, it is certainly not a coincidence that for the first time in the past 70 years, in 2011, the net flow of migration between Mexico and the US fell to zero.

Giuseppe Terranova is deputy editor of the online newspaper West. He has a PhD in politics and comparative law of the euro-Mediterranean region, from Università Kore in Enna, Italy. As an expert on immigration policies, he is a member of the European Centre for International Affairs in Brussels and assistant professor at the department for sustainable development (working with Prof. A Giordano) at Luiss University of Rome. Read other articles by Giuseppe.

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  • Simon

    Maybe 600,000 internal Polish immigrants to Warsaw, though certainly not international immigrants, I do not think that 1 in 3 residents of Warsaw are from abroad.

    • Sergio

      That’s what I was thinking.

    • gius

      Warsaw is used to say Poland. As you cand understand reading all the text.

    • Strix

      Yes, of course the author must have made a mistake. Some call them ‘j the ars’ – immigrants from poorer parts from Poland who live and work in the capital but visit relatives every weekend and bring food in jars 😉

      We have immigrants from Belarus and Ukraine but definitely not amounting to the figure quoted by the author.

      I think the poor guy might have trusted google translate a bit too much 😉

  • gius

    Dear Simon, Warsaw it was used to say Poland. As you can understand reading all the text.

  • Sergio

    I think the 600,000 figure is supposed to be 60,000.

  • mariusz

    That can’t be, get your facts straight. If you said 60,000 I’d agree.

  • andy

    it’s “robust”……. what???? oh, please, stop kidding. So why millions of young polish moved to UK and Ireland? and the “opportunities” for whom? maybe for the mafia, shure not for the honest people

  • Mathias

    It might be true, more and more people come to Poland to work cos this country is becoming better about work, am a foreign student in Poland and i found a job here so it’s not that difficult( even if you don’t know their language).

    • Strix

      Sure. As long as you are a student, you’ll get any job because your employer does not have to pay any national insurance contributions for you! Good luck finding job after graduation 😛

  • Strix

    I’m Polish and I think this article is a hoax. 9 our of 10 Polish families have at least one member living and working abroad. We have a problem with unsupervised minors because parents have left due to the lack of financial perspectives in their home country. Most Polish people earn around 400 EUR a month (after taxes) but the minimal salary is as little as 230EUR and the vast majority of young adults earn just that! We do not get permanent job contracts anymore, just some ‘agreements’ that mean we can be sacked any day without any redundancy/leave pay.

    Why do you think people with MA degrees move to London to wash dishes? Because Poland is so great?