Page last updated at 14:35 GMT, Tuesday, 8 July 2008 15:35 UK

The factors pulling migrants home

By Steven McKenzie
Highlands and Islands reporter, BBC Scotland news website

Polish footballer Euzebiusz Smolarek at Euro 2008
Things are looking up in Poland in terms of football and the economy

A number of factors could be pulling Eastern Europeans, and Poles in particular, back home.

Fears have been voiced that increasing numbers are returning to their homelands, with one employment agency reporting a 40% drop in the numbers looking for work since May.

Growing economies and the improved wages this can bring are being seen as a big draw for those returning home.

Many migrant workers came to Scotland to make money to send back to their families, but are no longer getting as much for their cash.

The current exchange rate means that they are getting 4.17 Polish Zloty (PLN) to the pound - down from its previous level of about 7 PLN.

One of the major bugbears for Eastern Europeans working in the Highlands has been the distance they have to travel to make visits home.

Lift curbs

With no direct flights, it means a journey to Glasgow to fly or a long convoluted trip by road.

More opportunities are becoming available in Europe.

In May, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said France would open its labour market to migrants from eight EU members in Central and Eastern Europe.

Visiting Poland, Mr Sarkozy said France would lift all the curbs it put in place when the countries joined four years ago.

Polish President Lech Kaczynski praised France's decision as "very important".

The eight countries are the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia.

All of the former communist bloc countries joined the EU in 2004.

Strong presence

Meanwhile, there may also be a general feel-good factor coming into play.

Like Scotland, Poland had a strong presence at Wimbledon, with Agnieszka Radwanska reaching the ladies' singles quarter finals.

She lost in straight sets to Serena Williams.

In football, the Czech Republic and Poland both featured at Euro 2008.

Poland has offered to step in and provide six of the eight venues for Euro 2012 if co-host Ukraine is not ready to help stage the tournament.

Ukraine has been given until September to prove it is capable of co-hosting Europe's showpiece football event.

Uefa has told Ukraine to speed up work on building stadiums and improve roads and transport infrastructure.

But Poland says it has a plan in place, if Ukraine continues to struggle.

The two countries were awarded the competition in April last year.


SEE ALSO
Workforce fears as migrants leave
08 Jul 08 |  Highlands and Islands
Poland plans contingency for 2012
05 Jul 08 |  Internationals


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