“Our country with its aging population and shrinking work force should welcome the new arrivals,” he says.
But a recent survey indicated that up to 40 percent of German workers feared that their wages would be undercut. Hans-Werner Sinn, president of the Ifo Institute for Economic research at the University of Munich, recently told reporters that "there will be millions coming within the next decade."
Trade unions warn that unemployed Germans will find it even harder to get jobs, and politicians are afraid the strained welfare system might not be able to bear any additional burden. Indeed, a considerable number of Poles are already illegally in Germany as cleaners, nannies, and builders.
Concerns could prove unfounded – as they were in Great Britain, Ireland, and Sweden when those nations opened their markets to Eastern European laborers. On May 2, 2004, reporters flocked in droves to London’s Victoria coach station to film and report on the legions of migrant workers expected to alight. The thin trickle of arrivals they actually found was disappointing, but it was only a harbinger of what was to come.
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Between 2004 and 2009, an estimated 1.5 million people from Eastern Europe came to the UK. It is thought 700,000 of them stayed, with half a million from Poland alone, according to a study by the UK’s National Institute for Economic and Social Research. And they added £5 billion (around $8.3 billion) to the British economy, the study found. Today, Polish delicatessen shops and bakeries are as much a part of London’s scenery as curry houses and halal butchers.