Eine Frau geht an einer Weltkarte, die aus Kinderporträts besteht, am Freitag (18.06.2010) im JuniorMuseum in Köln vorbei.

1.1.2010 | Von:
István Horváth

Immigration and Emigration since 1990

Immediately after the fall of the Communist regime, passport administration and international travel were liberalised. Although some measures to curb the international travel of certain categories (those engaged in speculative migratory movement and possessing limited resources) were taken during the 1990s and at the beginning of the new millennium.

Institutional and legal developments

For example, taxes were imposed on border crossings and those leaving had to prove that they were in possession of a certain amount of money. However, none of these measures drastically reduced the international mobility of Romanian citizens.

At the very end of the 1990s, as in other states, Romanian authorities started to implement a set of acts meant to regulate the international mobility of the labour force (both outflows and inflows). One major step was the creation of a specialised public institution to oversee this activity (Labour Force Migration Office) in 2002. This office is in charge of administering the inflows of foreign workers as well as providing information and guidance to Romanians wishing to work abroad. It is also active in the field of recruitment and work placement. To this end, Romania has signed bilateral agreements on labour migration (as well as contracts with private job agencies, in some cases). Though some private firms are active in worker recruitment and placement, the Labour Force Migration Office organises the majority of job placements abroad. In 2006 it provided 53 029 Romanian workers with foreign jobs (up 137% from 2002), mainly as seasonal workers in Germany (the major destination for this type of migration), Spain and Hungary. In contrast, private firms made only 14 742 placements, many of them involving summer work in the United States for students. [1]

In 2004 the Romanian authorities adopted a new policy in the field of immigration: the National Strategy on Migration. The major goal of the initiative is to provide a coherent legal framework for labour migration, asylum cases and naturalization. In addition, it is meant to promote institutional coherence by coordinating the activities of institutions active in the field of immigration, asylum and integration. Its stated objectives are to control and manage inflows, to prevent and combat illegal immigration, to improve protection for vulnerable migrants, to assist the social integration of alien residents, etc. The effectiveness and outcomes of this framework will only become clear when (and if) – as anticipated by the authorities – immigration to Romania increases.


In the first three years after the fall of Communism 170 000 persons legally emigrated from Romania. In 1990, emigration reached its peak, with 96 929 Romanians moving abroad. This emigration was the result of the liberalisation of travel as well as the turbulent economic and political environment in the country.

Again, ethnic minorities (especially Germans and Hungarians) where over-represented in the legal emigrant population; for example, 60 000 out of a total of 97 000 emigrants registered in 1990 were Germans. In the case of ethnic Germans, this emigration was encouraged by the assistance offered by the Federal Republic of Germany. Nevertheless, the main motivation for emigrating during this time was economic. At the beginning of the 1990s, highly qualified, young emigrants obtained long-term, legal residence in various European countries, the USA and Canada. Thereafter, more and more unskilled or poorly qualified persons from rural areas began seeking (mostly temporary) migratory arrangements.

During the process of transition and the restructuring of the Romanian economy (which took place roughly from 1990 to 2002), the employed population declined by 44%. More than 3.5 million jobs vanished, with the most dramatic decreases being registered in industry, where the number of jobs declined by half. In this context, a considerable number of Romanians left to seek economic gains abroad. In the last 17 years, the main countries of destination for Romanian labour migration have changed considerably, but three rather distinct phases can be outlined. [2]

In the first phase (roughly between 1990 and 1995), when entry to various Western European countries was severely limited, Romanian workers headed mainly to Israel, Turkey, Hungary (mostly ethnic Hungarians) and Germany. In the second period (1996-2002), westward migration prevailed, with large numbers of workers going to Italy and, increasingly, Spain. The third phase of labour migration was symbolically inaugurated on 1st January 2002 when countries included in the Schengen space removed visa requirements for Romanian citizens, making a valid passport sufficient for entry. Major destinations since then have included Italy, Spain, Portugal and the United Kingdom. It remains to be seen how Romania's accession to the EU (on 1st January 2007) will affect the volume of outflows or the countries of destination of Romanian labour migrants. It should be mentioned that eleven EU member states [3] have granted full and unrestricted access for Romanians to their labour markets. Others have imposed transitional arrangements barring Romanians (for periods of two to seven years) from entering their labour markets. Nevertheless, it is estimated that 3.4 million Romanians were working abroad in mid-2007, approximately 1.2 million of them legally. [4]


See MMSSF (2007a).
See Lăzăroiu (2004) and Sandu (2006).
These are: Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovak Republic, Slovenia and Sweden.
Tudorica, I. and Lucian, D. (2007): "Treimilioane de romani muncesc in strainatate." Cotidianul, 18 June.


Zuwanderung, Flucht und Asyl: Aktuelle Themen

Ein Kurzdossier legt komplexe Zusammenhänge aus den Bereichen Zuwanderung, Flucht und Asyl sowie Integration auf einfache und klare Art und Weise dar. Es bietet einen fundierten Einstieg in eine bestimmte Thematik, in dem es den Hintergrund näher beleuchtet und verschiedene Standpunkte wissenschaftlich und kritisch abwägt. Darüber hinaus enthält es Hinweise auf weiterführende Literatur und Internet-Verweise. Dies eröffnet die Möglichkeit, sich eingehender mit der Thematik zu befassen. Unsere Kurzdossiers erscheinen bis zu 6-mal jährlich.

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