Understanding free movement and migration in the European Union
Sending countries’ perception of migration
In countries that have mainly sent workers to other EU countries rather than received them, labour mobility associated with enlargement of the EU is perceived to have both positive and negative consequences.
In Slovakia, government stakeholders and academic experts argue that labour mobility to Austria helped reduce unemployment rates, and that the commuting of highly skilled workers from Bratislava to Austria put pressure on Slovakian labour markets to increase salaries and improve labour conditions. However, as unemployment rates in Slovakia are at a historic low, finding suitable employees has become a challenge, and the country has had to open its borders to workers from outside the EU.
Similarly, Hungarian stakeholders and experts considered migration and commuting from Western Hungary to Austria to have contributed to the reduction of unemployment in Hungary. However, like companies in Slovakia, companies in Western Hungary struggle to find enough trained workers. In addition to ‘brain drain’, Hungarian experts also highlight the ‘down-skilling’ of the Hungarian labour force in Austria and the UK, as many hold roles in sectors that are different to the focus of their education (such as the hospitality industry).