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EU Expansion and the Free Movement of Workers: Do Continued Restrictions Make Sense for Germany?

EU Expansion and the Free Movement of Workers: Do Continued Restrictions Make Sense for Germany?

On 1 May 2004, eight Central and Eastern European states joined the European Union (EU). In response to fears that a 'flood' of cheap labour from the new member states would lead to higher unemployment and falling wages in other parts of the EU, 'transitional arrangements' were introduced to allow member states to restrict the free movement of workers from the new member states for a period of up to seven years. Now that two years have passed since the restrictions were put in place, this policy brief looks at the number and characteristics of the labour migrants from the new member states who have taken up employment in the countries that chose to open their labour markets, with particular emphasis on the United Kingdom. It also considers the impact these migrants have had on the domestic economy and whether or not continued restrictions make sense for Germany. (Published 7/2006)