Features of the journal
Topics covered: poliotics, economy, society and culture
Circulation: 10 000 copies
Features of the article
Author: Nikolay Tanev
Title: <83@0F8O 8;8 8<83@0F8O, Emigration or Immigration
Issue of the journal: no. 1, 17 to 23-03-2008
The need for more immigration has turned into a pressing problem for Bulgaria, a country which has lost many of its brightest young people due to a steady but continuous emigration. This fact aggravates even more the country”s bleak demographic outlook – according to Eurostat data, quoted by a Bulgarian news portal, Bulgaria has had the worst demographic figures (low fertility rates, high mortality) of all the EU Member States for 2008. Population projections according to different estimates predict that between 4.5 and 6 million people will live in Bulgaria by 2050 (population in 2008 was 7.6 million), should the current trends persist. In economic terms this means that unless significant reforms of the social security, tax, welfare and education systems are implemented, this will lead to grave economic consequences for the overall standard of living and the redistribution of welfare.
The problem is obvious and it requires an adequate political response. However, the issue of immigration poses two main problems: on the one hand a coherent strategy for attracting high skilled immigrants and their integration is necessary, if the economic downturn is to be prevented. On the other hand, the idea of accepting foreign workers is not very popular regarding high levels of unemployment in many Bulgarian regions.
The National strategy on demographic developments as well as the National strategy for migration and integration both emphasize the need of reintegration of ethnic Bulgarians and the bringing back of economic emigrants by offering them economic stimuli (such as green cards for easy access to the labour market, tax exemptions, preferential mortgages). However, slogans of the kind “let us bring Bulgarians back instead of importing foreign labour” might not necessarily do any good. Not only do such measures cause discrimination against the resident Bulgarians and the foreign workers, but they are also unlikely to achieve the expected effect. The highly qualified specialists living abroad would hardly respond to such “perks” unless more far reaching reforms are implemented, especially targeted at the most nocuous societal factors, which provoked their leaving the country in the first place – inefficient judicial systems, high levels of corruption, the quality of the education and healthcare and so on. Instead, what is needed most are not artificial stimuli for bringing back the Bulgarians to Bulgaria and setting up specialized committees burdening even more the burdensome administration, but a liberalized and competitive labour market and facilitating consular procedures. The decision whether to employ Bulgarian or foreigners should be left not to the state, but to business.
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