[CORRECTED] Spinning labor migration: Germany vs Slovenia 

[CORRECTION 31/08/05: I liked the comparison I make in this post so much that I posted the link to it in the reader forum of the Standard-article [DE] reporting on the ongoing negotiations. Another reader then responded by saying that the facts about more Austrians working in Slovenia are a myth, and that the opposite is true. Apparently the myth was created in the early nineties by proponents of the campaign for an Austrian entry into the EU, as the painstaking analysis of the 'Slovenia myth' and its use by politicians and the media in this document [DE, pp.131-144] by the Austrian Employees Chamber plausibly documents. Accordingly, the remainder of this post collapses. Sorry.]


As for homo sapiens austriacus, it's foreigners that make him blind. And here is the kind of blog entry that is entirely unoriginal, but absolutely necessary.

A key recent talking point of Austrian government representatives all the way up to chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel has been that the pronounced rise in Austrian unemployment is due to the influx of jobseekers from Germany. "Schüssel's pretexts" was the title of this commentary [DE] by Eva Linsinger in Der Standard. Although it is true that the number of German nationals in the Austrian labor market has been rising fast, it is still the case that more Austrians work in Germany than vice versa: 57,931 Austrians in Germany compare to 46,410 Germans in Austria, reports Linsinger. Yes, but soon there will be more Germans, says the government. Subtleties like the reminder that transnational labor mobility is a key requirement for a success of the euro have little weight in the heat of this debate, so let's not mention that.

No, for the punch-line we had to wait for Slovenian newspaper Delo's report this Saturday (quoted by DerStandard [DE]) on ongoing negotiations between the Austrian and Slovenian governments over easing the restrictions on labor mobility between the two countries. If you remember, Austria had imposed a seven-years freeze on labor mobility from the 10 new EU member states as a condition for the last EU enlargement round. Naturally, the offended newcomers replied with equal measures against Austrians jobseekers. Thing is, that is not really so good for the Austrians. At least in the case of Slovenia. Since 2001, there have been more Austrians working in Slovenia than vice versa, and more would like to follow. So the Austrians want to renegotiate. But sure there must be more Austrians working in Slovenia, says the Austrian side, after all the Austrian population (8 million) is four times as large as the Slovenian one (2 million)! What was that thing about the 80 million Germans again? So the exceptional mobility freeze against the ten new members will have to be exceptionally eased in the case of Slovenia. Naturally.


The story did sound a little too good to be true. Speaking from my limited experience, I've met a single Austrian who works here but know dozens of Slovenes studying or working in Austria. In general, people here seem to be very familiar with Austria and travel there regularly. I haven't found the opposite to be true. Just personal experience talking, though.
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