When the Eastern European countries joined the European Union, the benefits seemed endless: everyone would benefit from the free movement of goods and people. But there is also another side, which European correspondent Saskia Dekkers explains in the series 'The other side of open borders'.
View the three parts below:
Part 1: Latvia
Joining the EU in 2004 gave Letten the freedom to work wherever they wanted. The economic crisis that hit the Baltic state hard from 2008 gave them a reason to leave.
Latvia is now one of the fastest shrinking countries in Europe. In the early 90s there were 2.6 million inhabitants, now only 1.9 million are left. The country is aging so much that many schools have to be converted into old people's homes.
Part 2: Poland
From 2004, when their country became a member of the European Union, Poland left en masse for richer Western Europe. That had economic consequences for Poland, but it also changes the political climate in the country.
The Polish government has been pursuing a conservative policy for years and receives warm support from the Roman Catholic Church. For progressive Poles a reason to (want to) leave their country, for others a reason to return.
Part 3: the United Kingdom
In 2004, immediately after their accession to the European Union, then Prime Minister Tony Blair gave all Central and Eastern European citizens access to the British labor market. Some 1 million Poles now live in Great Britain.
According to two British professors, immigration was the decisive factor for the British to vote in 2016 for a departure from the European Union. “Every analysis shows that people voted with immigration in mind.”