>German lessons for Czech immigration policy?


Luboš Palata, Central European correspondent of the Czech right-wing daily Lidové noviny is one of the more readable Czech journalists: his coverage of the Visegrad countries has a quality born of consistency rarely found in Western print media, which tend to have generic East European correspondents with wide beats who hop from crisis to crisis or election to election. His coverage of Robert Fico’s official visit to Libya, for example, was both enlightening and amusing. Palata’s commentary in the electronic edition of today’s LN on migration in the new EU is also interesting, although I’m not sure if I entirely trust its logic and conclusions.

Noting that renewed economic growth and a shortage of skilled professionals has at last led Germany to open its doors to well qualified citizens of the new member states in CEE, Palata notes that the Czech Republic has ‘conquered another bastion’ in its struggle to win acceptance as a normal Western country. The sting in the tail is that the Germans may be creaming off the very skilled people the CR badly needs for its own economic modernization. The knock on effect he thinks will be to create economic pressure to recruit migrants into the CR. But, he warns, the country needs a small quantity of high quality, high skilled migrants not a general opening up or a policy of promoting immigration. Here, he thinks, the CR should learn from the Germans.

Reading this, I couldn’t help wondering if this was actually not simply another reflection of Czech fears of large scale future immigration disguised as an argument about economic modernization. After all Germany is rarely cited as a model of anything in Czech right-wing liberal circles and the Czech Republic already has precisely such a programme to allow skilled non-EU migrants to settle in the country, but bureaucracy and the limited attraction of the CR in terms of living standards and broad opportunities have seen only a trickle of such highly skilled migrants..

Some of Palata’s more usual journalism on CEE is now coming out in English translation in Transitions Online and English summaries and links to Czech (and occasionally Slovak and Polish) originals can be found on the Eurotopics website here.

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