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31 Jan 2018

Poland fears its economy might collapse after EU allowed Ukranians to travel in Schengen Zone

Warsaw says letting Ukraine in Schengen Zone will devastate economyPoland has criticized the European Union for lifting visa requirements for Ukrainian citizens, saying that this might have a devastating effect on its economy. Warsaw authorities fear that after Ukraine entered the Schengen zone, less Ukrainians will come to Poland to work and fill the labor gaps, choosing other more economically developed western countries instead.

Poland’s rate of unemployment has fallen to record lows, 6.6 percent in December, thanks to solid economic growth. However, this has not been all positive for Poland, causing wages to go higher and triggering inflations, which in January hit the central bank’s target range for the very first time in four years.

Ever since Ukraine was granted with visa-free move in the Schengen zone travel, in June last year, Poland has  feared a possible collapse of its economy with its population growing older and the youthful staff traveling to richer and economically more stable countries of Europe.

Polish authorities see immigration as crucial for the labor market and for the whole Polish economy, since Poland relies on employees from countries like Ukraine and Belarus. Until now, the eastern European country, has had a relaxed settlement with Ukraine, issuing 1.3 million temporary work registrations to Ukrainian nationals, and around 116,000 extra obtained longer-term work permits.

However, after the European Union eased visa rules for Ukrainian citizens, Poland authorities doubt that the latter will choose countries with more stable economies, damaging country’s labor market. Even though the lifting of visa requirements only allows Ukrainian nationals to travel abroad for up to 90 days, and does not permit them to work.

Because of the aged population, only 16 million of Poland’s 38 million residents are presently working.

Poland’s Union of Entrepreneurs and Employers estimated two years ago that the country needs about five million more workers to sustain its economic growth. /DW

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