A new economic study of the European Commission takes stock of the EU enlargement. The assessment of the European Commission is highly positive; it is, however, only restricted to economic key figures.
In a press conference about the new study, the European Commissioner for Enlargement, Olli Rehn and the Commissioner for Economic & Financial Affairs, Joaquín Almunia agreed that the EU enlargements in 2004 and 2007 had above all resulted in more economic growth, higher employment and more stability in Europe. They pointed out that the income per head in the new Member States between 1999 and 2008 had increased from 40 % to 52 % of the average of the old Member States. The economic growth in the new Member States also improved by an average of 3.5 % during the period between 1999 - 2003 and by 5.5 % in the period between 2004 - 2008. The enlargement led to an intensification of trade within Europe. For example, 80 % of all goods produced in the new Member States in 2007 were exported to the remaining EU countries. This development, however, did not have a negative effect on the economic success of the old Member States. At ca. 2.2 %, the economic growth in the old Member States between 2004 and 2008 remained at the same level as during the period from 1999 to 2003.

With reference to the labour markets, the Commission mainly emphasized the positive effects for the new Member States. According to this, unemployment in the new Member States declined and in 2007 adjusted to the average rate of the remaining EU countries at ca. 7 %. The enlargement resulted in an increase of work migration of the new Member States into the old Member States, from 1.6 million in 2003 to ca. 3.6 million. In most Member States the share of foreign workers, however, accounts to no more than 1 % of the local population of working age. The study quotes Austria as an example, which in spite of restrictions, shows a relatively high influx of workers from the new Member States. The Report of the Commission, however - if only briefly - mentions that there is evidence that work migrants from the new Member States, compared to the local workforce, are faced with a stronger risk of poverty, inferior education opportunities for their children and poorer access to health and social facilities.

In December of last year, AK EUROPA had already voiced its concerns with respect to opening the labour market to new Member States within the scope of a workshop in cooperation with the Commission. The respective Report is available under the following link.

For further information:

Press Release: Five years of an enlarged EU

Communication from the Commission

Study: Five years of an enlarged EU