According to CASE Belarus estimates, the number of Belarusian labour migrants in the EU was around 100,000 people. This figure also covers circular migrants, those who went to the EU for employment and regularly return to Belarus. Potential losses of Belarusian GDP caused by labor migration amounted to 2.3% or USD 1.1bn in 2017. There are also losses of USD 128.9m (2%) of the state pension fund from labour migration to the EU in 2017.
Data for the Poland, Slovakia and Czechia indicate that the number of Belarusian citizens granted various forms of work permits in those countries has been constantly rising. Circular migration from Belarus contribute to ease current labour shortages in selected V4 states, and especially in services sector and industry. However, there are concerns around such issues as respect for migrants’ social and labour rights and efficient labour matching.
At the opposite side, little is known about the impact of circular migration to Poland, Slovakia and Czechia on the Belarusian labour market and economy (e.g. investments from remittances and savings). Globally, studies on this issue are fragmentary and inconsistent.
How managing circular migration could, in the long-term, help to optimise labour resources in both country of origin and destinations countries, while protecting migrants’ rights?
In the coming months CASE Belarus will try to answer this question together with colleagues from CASE – Center for Social and Economic Research (Poland), Institute for Politics and Society (Czechia), Institute of Economic Research of Slovak Academy of Sciences (Slovakia), Youth Labour Rights (Belarus).
The team plans to develop a circular migration feasibility study (specific goal 1: to enhance knowledge base) based on the evidence gained to date and on the regional labour market and macroeconomic forecasts for all the involved countries. The study will include a development component and will try to find out whether circular migration from Belarus to the selected V4 states in its current form really endow Belarusians with new skills, provide for skills transfer and prevent brain drain, and whether it supports an investment-oriented use of remittances and savings. The study will include a set of policy recommendations on organising and managing circular migration and will be discussed with policy-makers at a dissemination event (specific goal 2: to promote knowledge). We would also like to promote orderly circular movements and support current mobility by providing essential pre-departure information. Thus, we would like to set up a simple website and produce a leaflet addressed to current and potential future migrants from Belarus describing main legal pathways to Poland, Slovakia and Czechia as well as their rights as labour migrants (specific goal 3: to inform migrants’ decisions).