Jobs crisis: Europe's great migration

Spain unemployed in line at job centre, Madrid, 4 Jun 13 Spain wants EU partners to help ease its crippling unemployment problem

Later this week Europe's leaders will gather in Brussels on a mission to fight unemployment. They have identified the 26 million out of work as a threat to the European Union.

Recently the French President, Francois Hollande, warned of hatred and anger, with people turning their backs on the European project. The president of the European Investment Bank, Werner Hoyer, spoke of unemployment undermining the trust of a whole generation.

Whilst Europe debates how jobs are created, tens of thousands of young Europeans are on the move in search of work. They are part of a great migration.

For many, Germany is the land of opportunity and jobs. In 2012, 45,000 Italians moved to Germany. The Spanish were not far behind, with 37,000 heading in the same direction; 35,000 Greeks also left for Germany.

Germany needs these migrants. The Association of German Engineers says it wants 70,000 engineers immediately. When scientists and IT specialists are included, the figure goes up to 200,000.

Chancellor Angela Merkel is laying out the welcome mat. Not only does Germany need these skills, but she believes migration will go some way to alleviating Europe's unemployment. She says that the young and unemployed should be prepared to move to find work.

Unemployment rates

  • Greece - 27%
  • Spain - 26.8%
  • Portugal - 17.8%
  • Cyprus - 15.6%
  • Rep of Ireland - 13.5%
  • Italy - 12%
  • France - 11%
  • EU average - 11%
  • UK - 7.7%
  • Germany - 5.4%

Source: Eurostat, April 2013 (Figures for Greece & UK are for February 2013)

Mrs Merkel is influenced by her own experience, coming from the former communist East Germany. "I had 30% youth unemployment in my own constituency (in the east)," she told the BBC. "I know that many young people from my region only had jobs because they moved to the south."

So Germany is investing 1bn euros (£848m; $1.3bn) in funding apprenticeships for young people in places like Spain and Portugal to help them find work in Germany.

Brain drain

It is, however, often the best and brightest who are emigrating. In the year up to April 2012, 87,000 people left Ireland. Many moved to Australia and New Zealand. Most of them had achieved high levels of education.

Only this week, I stood outside the Angolan consulate in the Portuguese capital Lisbon.

By 08:00 in the morning, 150 people were waiting in line. Tens of thousands of Portuguese are seeking work in places like Angola and Mozambique, countries which were former colonies. Once again it is engineers and those with specialist skills who are gambling on a different future outside Europe.

Some may return. Many will not. The fear is of a brain drain which will leave some of these southern European countries stagnating. It is estimated that more than 100,000 Spanish graduates have already left a country where unemployment is heading towards 28%.

So Europe's leaders this week will try and bring forward a 6bn-euro youth guarantee scheme to help young people who are without work. Even though programmes at the European level may help, most jobs are created by small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) which want easier access to credit and less European regulation.

In the meantime, with unemployment still rising in southern Europe, many young people are on the move - a great migration in search of work, with unpredictable consequences for the countries they leave behind.

Gavin Hewitt Article written by Gavin Hewitt Gavin Hewitt Europe editor

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  • rate this

    Comment number 498.

    Re 497--another ermmmm great posting.........
    What on earth has a 150 year-old American Civil War got to do with Phfft's comments , let alone anything on this topic or on the planet please ??

  • rate this

    Comment number 497.

    487 Phfft

    "True,except Russia,the way it kept Chechnya in its Federation was brutal"

    I agree but so was the horrendous American civil war that forced the south to stay in the union against its will and cost hundreds of thousands of lives. Even worse than war is a civil war when families fight and kill each other

  • rate this

    Comment number 496.

    494. DavidinUSA

    If you return,how about Pembrokshire? & as a Welsh man who can trace family back to 1650 around here,I say welcome.Keep away from shut tap & closing times one would not know a problem existed.
    I have met many teenage girls walking the coast path here on their own quite safe.

    Nite all...

  • Comment number 495.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 494.

    "I wish you & your`s every happiness."


    I hope to return to England one day, but now I feel that society and the streets are just too dangerous for my children. In the US the dodgy areas are small & well-known - the UK seems to be becoming one big dodgy area. Hopefully the UK politicos will get their act together & start to govern properly & protect the vulnerable.

  • rate this

    Comment number 493.

    I'd like to say that I have much respect for most of the views expressed on these BBC Blogs by Lucy(who has contributed to this article)--thx Lucy for commonsense among many posters who could learn a thing or two from ure posts.Also agree with Phfft--I've been to USA many times, have US friends-the place scares the hell out of me. When we have a murder in UK, it's big front-page news..not in USA !

  • rate this

    Comment number 492.

    489. Scott0962

    That was sobering.My main beef,was being ruled by yet another layer of expensive politicos along with that barrel of monkeys in Westminster. They are hard enough to watch,fat chance with remote & aloof Brussels

  • rate this

    Comment number 491.

    Yeah right mags, Chechnya and Quebec love being in their respective federations, so did the Confederacy. Switzerland is just better than the rest of us.

  • rate this

    Comment number 490.

    477. DavidinUSA

    I wish you & your`s every happiness.There was a time when the Sun was young for me too & I ached to live in the US.Then it felt like I was buried alive in West Wales.After 10/11 long visits to the US & loving every minute & mile,I now know I did best by staying put.
    As for drink & youngsters,we don`t moan & do nothing.But try & try again to help,their parents are so grateful.

  • rate this

    Comment number 489.

    "except Russia,the way it kept Chechnya in its Federation was brutal."

    As was the American Civil War which was fought to keep member states from leaving the union--even though the US constitution seemed to permit it since it was not expressly forbidden. Federations can be tricky: usually easy to join, not so easy to back out of if things aren't going well.

  • rate this

    Comment number 488.

    Europe is a lot of very distinctive, unique+beautiful countries w/ many a great peoples
    Bang on.

    We are with Europe, but not of it. We are linked but not comprised. We are associated but not absorbed. And should European statesmen address us and say, 'Shall we speak for thee?', we should reply, 'Nay Sir, for we dwell among our own people'.

    The Rt Hon Sir Winston Churchill.

  • rate this

    Comment number 487.

    483. margaret howard

    USA is a federal country, as is Canada, Russia, Switzerland and many others. Seems to be working quite well

    True,except Russia,the way it kept Chechnya in its Federation was brutal.USA & Canada,one took its independence the other was granted,If the US waited it also would have been granted.UK lineage different,with self rule & coinage back to Saxon times, why change?

  • rate this

    Comment number 486.


    "Europe is a lot of very distinctive, unique+beautiful countries w/ many a great peoples"

    I agree and am pleased your family had such good memories.

    Therefore it's doubly sad that you seem to get your information from such dubious sources as Fox News and believe them without checking elsewhere.

  • rate this

    Comment number 485.

    Marg: why you should be so interested in us

    B/c you are the lands of my ancestors before they came to America

    I guess in a way I look up to you

    Also Europeans treated my parents very well+kindly when they were stationed in Germany+traveled all over Europe in 70s
    so I have a very positive image

    Europe is a lot of very distinctive, unique+beautiful countries w/ many a great peoples

  • rate this

    Comment number 484.

    David: What kind of society turns a blind eye -all presumably out of fear of being accused of racism over immigrant criminals?

    In USA media turns a blind eye to crimes committed by illegal immigrants

    Media are corps+
    Corps are lobbying for amnesty

    In a town nearby recently a white female college student was attacked by over 25 Mexican illegal immigrants-did not even make the newspaper

  • rate this

    Comment number 483.

    468 Phfft

    "LucyJ hold fast to that one,it sums up Federalist dogma succinctly"

    Surely the USA is a federal country, as is Canada, Russia, Switzerland and many others. Seems to be working quite well

  • rate this

    Comment number 482.

    466 quietoaktree

    If your former compatriots know whats good for them, they won't try and take away our extra sausage. Its our sausage. Not their sausage. Its probably a Lincolnshire. Don't touch it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 481.

    479 Lucy

    "Oaktree: Hoping you will understand"

    I wonder whether QOT means hoping you understand anything about Europe apart from Fox News propaganda.

    I reallly don't know why you should be so interested in us seeing that you know so little of any value about us.

    If anybody's eyes are too big its your own country's with its designs on other countries and their raw materials

  • rate this

    Comment number 480.

    Marg: so that criminals can't escape across a state border and escape prosecution

    I think Britain is saying it just wants veto power
    like how USA wanted that British computer hacker looking for UFOs
    but Britain vetoed it which was their right b/c they kept that priviledge

    Marg: the last thing they want to do is copy the American model

    To be the best, you have to beat the best

  • rate this

    Comment number 479.

    Oaktree: Hoping you will understand

    I understand that not all Europeans want the same EU laws

    Germany wants federalism
    but UK is not willing to give it all up

    Just like my Dad would say when I was little at the family reunions getting large plate of food which I couldn't eat all+
    would end up giving to him+my older brothers
    "Your eyes are too big"

    Germany's eyes are too big


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