One third of all European emigrants are Romanians. How to keep our workforce in the country

Romanians are the emigrants of Europe. At least that's what the latest Eurostat data show. According to them, in 2022 almost a third of all European emigrants were Romanians. According to statistics, at the level of the European Union, we have the highest number of working poor: almost 20%, and this is the reason why many of them go to Italy, Spain, Germany, France and Austria. Poles and Italians are on the next places in the top of urban mobility. They prefer to work in Germany, Ireland and Spain

Romanians, in the top of European migrants. Photo source: Archive

In 2022, Romanians represented almost a quarter of all migrant European citizens: more precisely, 24% of their total. We are talking about double the number of Poles and Italians who chose to leave their own country to work abroad. Specifically, while the number of Romanians scattered in almost all countries on the continent is over 3.1 million, Italians and Poles total only 1.5 million, the statistics say. Together, however, the three groups of emigrants represent a population between that of Denmark (5.99 million inhabitants) and that of Bulgaria (6.447 million inhabitants).

In total, two years ago, around 14 million Europeans lived in another Member State, the figure being the equivalent of 3% of the resident population of the European Union. To them are added 24 million (5% of the EU population) of citizens of non-EU countries, who lived in the community space.

Romanians' favorite countries. Profile of the migrant

“At the level of the European Union, we have the highest number of working poor: almost 20%. He also works, his wife also works but they live in poverty. The income does not provide them with a decent living”, sociologist Gelu Duminică explained for “Adevărul”. Therefore, many of them leave. Where? According to Eurostat, in Italy, Spain, Germany, France and Austria. At the bottom of our list of preferences are Croatia, Latvia and Lithuania.

After a slight decrease during the Covid-19 crisis, the number of Romanians who emigrated to Italy rose again to over one million. Moreover, we are talking about a country that has softened its character as a seasonal destination and where the number of Romanians who have stabilized and even naturalized is constantly increasing. Sociologist Gelu Duminică explained the phenomenon: “The profile of the Romanian migrant has changed quite a lot. We no longer have a necessarily seasonal, economic migration, i.e. the Romanian stays abroad for a while with the thought that he will return home, but a permanent one”specified the specialist.

“The number of those who settle in a certain country and have no intention of returning home is increasing. And it's normal to be like that. If you have worked in Italy for 20 years, it is unlikely that you will return to Romania. The great mass will remain there”, explains Gelu Sunday.

Moreover, he says, the pandemic has taught us that we can – in certain fields of activity – work from home. We can work from abroad for Romanian companies. “And then the man moves entirely to Italy, let's say, because he benefits from everything that means the well-being of the Italian social system.”

In second place as a destination in the top of Romanians' preferences is Germany. Especially young professionals have arrived here, even if there are not many cultural affinities or linguistic approaches. However, this country offers them what they cannot find in Romania: higher salaries, better working conditions, better living conditions, but also respect for the work done. It is also the reason why Germany is home to the second largest community of Romanians. It is about almost 800,000 citizens.

“Migration is a very natural and natural phenomenon. Berlin is like Galatia at the moment. And the Romanian feels better where he does it better”the sociologist also specifies. “Migration is a normality generated by mobility. Has mobility increased? Yes! Good! Then, Berlin became “home” for many Romanians”.

On the same principle, many foreigners also come to Romania. “A lot of Nepalis, Sinhalese and so on will stay here. And Romania will be “home” for them. Germany attracts like a magnet not only labor force from Romania, but also from Poland and Italy. And these countries register here the largest diasporas: 773,368 people and 581,469 people, respectively. They migrated here especially during the financial crisis of 2008 when the percentage of unemployed youth among tertiary graduates reached record percentages. 30% of Italy's young emigrants were settled in Germany 10 years ago, and 21% in Switzerland, according to a study on this phenomenon, we learn from the Curs de Governance website.

As for Spain, it ranks third in the list of Romanian migrants' preferences. We are talking about a country where the jobs occupied by Romanians are generally in the agricultural sector. If we are to refer to the numbers, in 2022 a little over 600,000 Romanians lived and worked here.

Where Poles and Italians Migrate

Poles, with no linguistic ties to any of the Western states, are more numerous in Germany, and then in the Nordic countries and Ireland. Large communities of Poles are found in the Netherlands – 176,074 people, Ireland – 135,903 and Norway, which is not an EU state but only a member of the European Economic Area (EEA) – 112,718 people.

As for the Italians, they still prefer Germany, (581,469 citizens) and then Spain (almost 300,000 people), France (about 250,000) and Belgium (153,447 people.)

Reasons for migration to Europe? The workplace, states Eurostat, which mentions that this is also observed in the age structure of the communities of foreigners in the European Union states.

Thus, the age distribution shows that, compared to the natives, the foreign population has a higher proportion of relatively young adults between the ages of 20 and 49. They are able-bodied people. In Romania, for example, says Gelu Duminică, “young people are the poorest category of people, not pensioners, as one would think.” It is a reason why they leave to look for jobs in other countries.

Returning to Eurostat data, two years ago men aged between 20 and 49 represented 29% of the foreign population, compared to 18% in the national population; women between the ages of 20 and 49 made up 27% of the foreign population, compared to 18% in the domestic population.

In contrast, the share of people over 50 was lower for foreign nationals than for native citizens: men over 50 years of age represented 12% of the foreign population, compared to 20% for native citizens; women over 50 made up 13% of the foreign population, compared to 24% of the national population.

In the case of Romania, in 2022, almost half of those who went abroad, i.e. over 100,000 of the 202,311, were people between 20 and 39 years old.

Why are Romanians leaving the country?

Because the Romanian state does not encourage work, and we are referring here especially to disadvantaged people. Sociologist Gelu Sunday declared that “the one who goes abroad to work, with his skills, can earn three times more there compared to what he earns in Romania. In other words, instead of working as an unskilled worker in I don't know what factory in Romania and taking the minimum on the economy, he goes to Great Britain as a car washer and earns 2,500 pounds a month.”

The conclusion: if we refer to disadvantaged people, without education, the Romanian state does not encourage their integration in the field of work. It is one of the reasons why many Romanians went to Spain, to pick strawberries, or unskilled workers on construction sites. The sociologist comes up with a simple and concrete explanation: “If I go to work, I take the minimum wage in the economy. I'm unqualified, I don't have school, I get a little over 2,000 lei. In hand. If I go to work, I have extra costs. Transportation costs, food and clothing costs. This means that first of all, before being paid, I have to invest first…somewhere on average, say, 30 lei per day. Instead, they only get their salary at the end of the month. If I think about it…in 22 working days my investment amounts to 660 lei. And I take 2,000 lei in hand. If I stay at home, I work 5 days a month..I work by the day..I get 150 lei a day..that means 750 lei. I get another pack of cigarettes from the one I work for, my meals are provided. Rounded off, I can reach 800 lei monthly”.

And then the natural question arises: why should I work with documents if I can do it black or… not at all?

The sociologist also refers to the lack of infrastructure in Romania, which makes professional mobility very difficult in our country. Concretely, many Romanians do not have the means to travel to their place of work located outside their towns of residence. “Our infrastructure is quite bad. For example, to get from Calafat to Craiova, the journey would probably take an hour and a half, maybe even two hours. Which is discouraging.” In the West for example, the first thing for occupational mobility was to develop the infrastructure in such a way that people could move quickly from one place to another.

What should we do to keep our workforce in the country? “The state should create mechanisms to encourage work. Infrastructure, education, mobility premiums, etc. Things that happen all over the civilized world, less so here.” concluded the specialist.