NOTES ON MIGRATION & DELOCALIZATION (compiled by Joanne 1.08.05)


The mass movement of people has been an inseparable characteristic of history, but the real migration boom began at the end of the Cold War. The collapse of the former Soviet block, the failure of the regime of apartheid in South Africa, the replacement of many regimes in Latin America by governments depending on external financing, the outbreak of civil wars and of local and regional conflicts and the extension of the process of economic and political integration in Europe – all these factors led to unprecedented scales of mass movement of people. There are 120 million international migrants in the world, and although this makes up only 2% of the world population, the influence of transnational and interregional migration on the new global architecture has been immense.

The main reason for labor migration is the economic disparity between countries. Migration flows along the line South to North, and in Europe, from former communist countries to the EU. For many countries mass migration is the manifestation of the social and economic crisises that accompany their attempts to integrate in the global market. Increased migration is an effect of the penetration of capitalist economic relations into peripheral non-capitalist societies and its disruptive consequences, which create a mobile population prone to migrate.

Today, more than 22 million foreigners live in the 25 member states of the EU and represent more than 5% of the population. In absolute terms, the principal host countries are Germany, France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. But relative to their population size, Luxembourg, Germany, Sweden and Austria have the highest percentage of immigrants relative to the native born population. The new members of the EU still have a significant out-migration and little in-coming migration, since they are the poorest in the union. An average level of their GDP is only around 47% of the average of 15 old members of the EU. And because of unequal treatment, there won’t be any quick “catching up.” Polish or Hungarian farmers get only a quarter of the agrarian subsidies that farmers in France or Spain are getting. New member states get 10 times less structural funds than old members. According to the estimates of the Economist Intelligence Unit research center, the process of catching up with their European neighbors will take Estonia 30 years, Slovenia 30 years, Hungary 35 years, Slovakia and Czechia 40 years, Lithuania 50 years, Latvia 55 years, Poland 55 years, Bulgaria 65 years and Romania 80 years.


National surveys conducted between 2002 and 2004 show the official proportion of migrants at 5% or around 1 million. In reality the figure is probably closer to 2 million; another survey showed that 17% of Romanian adults declared that someone from their household worked abroad. The official amount of Romanian migrants' remittances sent back to Romania were estimated in 2002 at 1.2 billion dollars and in 2003 at 2 billion dollars. But this figure accounts only for official bank transfers; taking into account the diversity of informal channels to remit money to families and the savings that migrants themselves carry on the way back, the volume is much higher. Unofficial estimates are that the amount of migrants’ remittances are equivalent to 20-30% of Romania’s GDP, exceeding the amount of foreign investment.

At the beginning of 1990s, the suitcase trade was the dominant form of migration. People traveled in countries like Turkey, Poland, Hungary and Yugoslavia trading small things for other merchandise or buying things that they re-sold in the Romanian market. During the first two or three years after 1989 around 100000 Romanians of ethnic German origin left for permanent residence in Germany. Hungary was also a main destination of permanent immigration by the ethnic Hungarian minority during the early to mid 1990s. The permanent immigration flows of Germans from South Transylvania and from Banat also contributed to the formation of short term labor migration networks. After the majority of the ethnic Germans left Romania, Germany continued to be a main destination, but for labour migration, followed by the US and Canada. As Germany increased control over incoming migrants after the mid-1990s, only people with strong connections were able to find a job and migration diminished. By the end of the 1990s, Italy became the leading destination of Romanian labor migration, followed by Spain and France. 2002 was the turning point for labour migration because the visas required of Romanian citizens in Schengen countries were abolished. Before 2002, since embassies had very complex procedures and restrictions for visas, those wanting to work abroad resorted to informal providers of “black” visas, which cost about 1,000-1,500 EUR for Germany or Spain, a huge amount for most Romanian families. After the visa regulation was abolished, there was a more dispersed migration pattern directed towards more destinations in Europe. Romanian labour migration increased by 70% during 2002-2003.

The six major routes of Romanian migration are toward bordering western countries (Hungary & Yugoslavia), far off Northwest (Germany), nearby Southeast (Turkey) and far off Southwest (Italy & Spain). Romania is very regionally structured with regard to temporary labour migration. Moldavia is dominated by flows to Italy; Dobrogea and Eastern Muntenia is dominated by flows to Turkey; Banat, Southern Transylvania and the Western part of Oltenia is dominated by flows to Germany; Covasna to the West crossing Harghita, Mures, Cluj, Salaj and Bihor is dominated by flows to Hungary; and Oltenia (except for Valcea county) is dominated by flows to Yugoslavia. In general, migrants from rural areas travel toward countries in the South - Italy, Spain, Greece and Turkey.

At present, the region of Moldavia (the poorest and most rural region in northeast Romania) provides the biggest flow of labor migrants to Italy. In many rural regions most people don’t earn wages but work in subsistence agriculture in their families, so the actual rate of unemployment is around 90%. The predominantly rural Republic of Moldova, where the population is bilingual and speaks Russian and Romanian, also has a very high percentage of migration to Italy. Of the official figure of 600000 labor migrants per year from Moldova, 250000 thousand go to Russia and 150000 to Italy. There are several reasons that favor Italy as a destination country:

- The lack of a language barrier. The similarity between the Italian and Romanian languages makes it possible for even someone with a low education level to assimilate basic knowledge of the language within a matter of weeks.

- The legal barrier is much lower compared to other countries. Salaries are lower than in other countries like Germany, but workers perceive that this is compensated by more relaxed regulations in terms of staying to work. The price of residency work permits is 10 euro - in Poland, by contrast, the price of the stay permit is 75. Although the application procedures can be lengthy and bureaucratic (sometimes it takes almost a year to obtain a permit to stay), the workers have permission to stay as soon as they file the application not after it is approved. At the time of application workers receive a receipt (ricevuta), which is accepted as a legal document during police controls.

- The movement of people has tended to follow the same route as the movement of capital, but in the opposite direction, which is most visible in the Moldavia region and in Timis. During the communist period Moldavia’s economy was concentrated the textile and shoes industry. After 1990, when most of this industry collapsed, Italian companies were the first to massively invest in this area. The presence of Italian companies encouraged the first contacts and information about Italy which made it more attractive as a destination country for labor migration. There is also a high migration rate to Italy from Timis county, where there was also a prior large concentration of Italian companies.

Romanian migration is overwhelmingly circulatory or irregular migration. Legal, long-term emigration has been decreasing as people cannot stay for longer period if they do not have contract. Since the availability of short-term jobs is not very widespread and the legal conditions for long term stays have become more difficult, a new job-replacement strategy has developed. Usually there are two or three persons “sharing” the same job, each for a period of three months in order to avoid overstaying the legal 90 days. One migrant worker works for 3 months and then returns to Romania. A friend or relative replaces the worker for the next 3 months and so forth. This means that most of the migrant workers leave Romania and enter EU countries as tourists, but they already have arrangements for work in the black market. This is more like a form of labour commuting than earlier patterns of long-term migration, because it does not lead to inclusion and integration of migrants into different spheres of the host society - like the economy, law, politics, health or education.


Research points to the existence of a fragmented Romanian community in Italy, which is composed of small networks. Romanian workers do not fit the profile of long-term migrants trying to make a new life by integrating into the country and obtaining permanent residence or citizenship. Because migrants experience separation from the rest of the population, they are less trusting of people in the host country, especially authorities, and more accustomed to rely on their own informal networks.

In 2002, after the Romanian border became more open because visas were abolished, previous networks became much weaker when faced with a new huge wave of migration. Old networks became saturated and the tendency was to reduce themselves and to become more family and friend oriented and completely impermeable to new migrants without the right connections. Romanian workers would occupy a sector by building networks of relatives and friends to activate in the same branch and recommend them for jobs. In some cases, well-established networks imposed discriminatory, protectionist practices against other Romanians attempting to make a living in the same line of work: "Those which came a long time ago have priority - they have their set area and interdiction for the rest, that is their area and nobody else enters" (interview).

A specific trait of new Romanian migrant networks that emerged after 2000, which reacted against the closing of networks mainly to families and friends, was the use of the new communication technologies (chat rooms and sites) for spreading information about job opportunities, legislation, or for identifying and meeting co-nationals. An important source of information concerning migration opportunities and legislation in the destination countries is Diaspora websites. There are many of these sites in countries like Italy where the number of Romanian migrants is estimated to be around 3-400000.


Italian industrial districts are trading and investing in Eastern European countries while migration flows are occurring from Eastern European countries toward the same industrial districts. Trade, capital and labour mobility have been complementary in reverse directions. It’s not a coincidence that Romania is one of Italy’s leading business partners, and that Romanian labour migration favors Italy as a destination.

Bilateral trade between Italy and Romania has increased 10 times from 1991 to 1999. Italy exports leather and shoes, textile products, machinery, domestic appliances, cars, and imports footwear, clothing, iron and aluminium products. Romania ranks second in Italian import of clothing from all the countries in the world (first is China and third is Tunisia), and it ranks first in Italian import of shoes. Italian foreign investment in Romania has increased 6 times from 1995 to 1999 (59,371 millions liras), exceeding its investment in other central/east European countries like Hungary, Poland or Russia. During the period 1996-1998 Italian investment in Romania increased by 35% while in Hungary it diminished by 1.2% and in Russia by 7.1%. These figures don’t cover all the real Italian FDI (foreign direct investment), and particularly don’t take into account the investment by small entrepreneurs and the phenomenon of soft internationalization (like subcontracting processing). Italy has a high proportion of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) which have structural difficulties in realizing Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). 635 "small multinationals" were registered in an Italian data bank in 1998, which represents 79% of total Italian multinationals. The headquarters are concentrated in 4 Italian regions: Lombardia, Piemonte, Veneto and Emilia Romagna. Some small multinationals of the Veneto region have grown into large enterprises: Benetton, Stefanel, Luxottica, Diadora, Geox, De Longhi, etc. Small multinationals (which specialize in textile, leather and footwear) have delocalized 33 % of their operations to East and Central Europe. One of the most significant delocalisation of small multinationals are from Veneto region to Timis region in Romania.

Out of 11000 Italian companies in Romania (13% of all foreign companies, employing around 700000 people) the largest concentration is about 4000 in Bucharest area and1000 in Arad-Timisoara area. 80% of Italian enterprises in Romania come from the Italian North-East Regions and 1,800 from Treviso province alone. Data show a clear complementarity in bilateral trade, foreign investment and migration flows between Italy and Romania, and particularly between the Veneto and Timisoara-Arad areas during the 1990s. Before visa restrictions were lifted in 2002, businesses in Veneto lobbied for eliminating visa restrictions for Romanian migration in order to facilitate a selective recruitment and training of Romanian migrants in their plants. Veneto entrepreneurs invested heavily in the training of workers and in the creation of new infrastructures in the Timis district. In 2001 Veneto Region signed an Agreement Protocol for recruitment and training of circular migrants in Italy who would then return to work in Italian companies in Timis district. Unindustria Treviso organized its annual conference in Timisoara in February 2001 with Italian and Romanian government ministries asking public support for the improvement of infrastructure, funding for setting up of technologic and industrial parks in Timisoara and a reduction of red tape on trade. The Conference showed the willingness of Italian enterprise to become directly involved in Romanian politics, and in moulding a special territorial partnership between Veneto and Arad-Timisoara regions.


In 1998, Italy surpassed France to become the number two European country, after Germany, in terms of numbers of new immigrants received. In some cities, such as Milan, 10% of the births recorded in 1997 were to non-citizens. The rise in immigration and the presence of foreigners takes place in a context of sharp demographic decline. The Italian fertility rate has been about 1.2, the lowest in the world, for more than a decade. Demographers predict that the population will drop by about 5.3% in the next two decades, with the segment under 20 years old dropping by 32.3%. This means that the rate of immigration will triple to about 6.2% in 20 years in order to meet the labour demands of corporations.

Immigrants are recognized as present in Italian society but only as “those who are most needy” or “those forced by poverty to leave their homes”. The primary term used by Italians to refer to immigrants from developing countries is extracomunitario, which literaly means a citizen from outside the European Union. In public discourse it means immigrants from poorer countries, without distinguishing skin color or religion. This distinction is important because it seems Italy does not have ethnic minorities, but rather immigrants which are grouped together and discriminated against not based on race but on their position as an economic minority.

The largest proportions of migrants in Italy are 37% from Central/East Europe (out of these, 15.8% are Albanian) and 23% from North Africa (out of these, 18% are Moroccan). By 2000 the Romanians became the third largest migrant group in Italy, following Moroccans and Albanians. In 2000, Caritas estimated the legal figure at only 85,000, but since there are a lot of illegal migrants and unregistered workers who came as tourists, the actual figure is much higher between 3-400000, representing a fifth of all migrants from Central/East Europe.

Migration patterns in Italy are concentrated in three poles: the metropolitan poles of Rome and Milan, the strong labour demand in industrial districts in North Italy and the seasonal labour demand in agricultural zones. The presence of immigrants in metropolitan areas and in industrial districts adds up to about the 70% of the total. The Veneto industrial region (Vicenza, Verona and Treviso) represents one of the most important destination region of migration flows. The economic sectors absorbing immigrants are metallurgy and mechanical ones, leather (in Vicenza especially), building, chemical and plastic products, furniture (in Treviso especially).

Romanian migrants are concentrated in Rome (about 50%) and in the industrial districts of North Italy. In the Veneto region the largest percentage of migrants is Romanian and there has been a steady increase over the last few years (60% increase in 2000). The ratio of Romanian male to female migrants is around 4:1. Most of the male migrants are working in the construction sector in industry. Female migration is mostly in personal service sector, housekeeping, nursing, baby-sitting or care of the elderly.

MiGration (last edited 2008-06-26 10:01:32 by anonymous)