Free movement of labor, redux

On the previously mentioned subject of Europe’s “free” movement of labor (and the possibility of a massive influx of cheap labor from the east come EU accession time) here’s an article I wrote on the topic in November for Czech and Slovak Construction Journal (for some reason the article’s not posted online).

If you’re too lazy to read the whole thing… It talks about the onset of “EU fatigue” in the east, plus it cites a bunch of studies that discredit the fear of a massive influx of eastern workers wrecking havoc on Western European job markets. And this is really about Polish construction workers already living illegally in Berlin, not Czech IT geeks in London (nor British chefs in Prague). Enjoy.
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Welcome to the EU, suckers

NOTE: The first version of this post contained a factual error. I’ve corrected it. The Hungarians and Poles did, in fact, successfully negotiate a transition period for their VAT laws.

One of the big items in the Czech papers yesterday was the fact that most restaurants and bars will raise the price of food on May 1, the day of Czech EU accession, as food gets slotted into the higher 22% value-added-tax category as per Brussels’ demand. On Tuesday, the EU rejected a French proposal to keep food in the 5% category.

I am not among those that think harmonized tax regimes are part of an evil socialist plot to radically redistribute wealth. But Jeez, people, could you not have come up with some other way to phase this in?
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Like You, Like Me: Like Me, Like You

I don’t know why I hadn’t seen it before, but it was only while talking with a colleague this afternoon, and being asked what I thought about the unwillingness of the candidate countries to reform that it came to me: with all this coming and going on the Pact, what kind of message is being sent to the new members? Obviously if you give the impression that agreements are not to be complied with, you can get reactions you aren’t expecting, and that you don’t like. The Financial Times article you can find below, begins to give an idea of the size of the looming problem, whilst this one informs us that Standard and Poor’s has just downgraded the Polish currency rating because of concerns about deficits and rapidly growing government debt.
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