From a country of emigration to the country of immigration:
Case Study Slovenia
Felicita Medved
Austria. The net migration of Slovenia in comparison to the other Yugoslav Republics was
positive, between 3,000 and 5,000...
GDP, rise of unemployment and have changed radically after the 1990s, especially due to the
independence of Slovenia in 19...
Intra-EU mobility however did not have a substantial impact on the Slovenian labour
market in terms of mobility of Sloveni...
immigrants continue to maintain and practice their cultures and values in accordance with
their personal integrity and dig...
development and lasting stability in the Balkan region is also high on the country’s foreign
policy agenda. In March 2010 ...
qualified employment.

The legislative framework
The legislative framework for the management and administration of migrat...
challenges presented by trafficking in human beings and irregular migration.

Irregular migration, smuggling and trafficki...
concrete measures or incentives for return of economic migrants have been adopted. There is
also scarce information on the...
to new jobs by making migrant workers more competitive in the labour market.
Another topical issue which has been exposed ...
laid down, including calculation of precise needs for labour and skills. The recruitment of
medical doctors and nursing pr...
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From a country of emigration to the country of immigration by Felicita Medved


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From a country of emigration to the country of immigration by Felicita Medved

  1. 1. From a country of emigration to the country of immigration: Case Study Slovenia Felicita Medved MIGRATION AND INTEGRATION An eternal topic for the populists, or a chance for liberals to improve their human rights agenda Belgrade, 2013-06-19 Introduction In my presentation I shall give a brief historical overview of migration in the present territory of Slovenia, followed by an overview of the policy and the legislative framework that regulates and facilitates migration in terms of admission conditions, residence and return as well other aspects of the migration process, such as integration. Then I shall move on to shed some light on the most pressing issues raised by immigration and practice and to discuss the most difficult questions and acute problems in terms of human rights. 1 Historical Overview: from a country of emigration to the country of immigration Emigration from the present territory of Slovenia started at the mid of the nineteenth century as a part of the third wave of the European emigration oversees and lasted for a century and half when Slovenia turned mainly to a country of immigration. It is believed that more than a third of Slovenian population lives abroad and that the demographic loss due to emigration can be comparable to the countries of high emigration rate at that period such as Ireland. In the period after World War Two Slovenia was one of the republics of the federal state of Yugoslavia (SFRY), which contrary to the most of the then communist countries opened its borders after 1965. Up to year 1954, Slovenia was above all an emigration country. The migration balance was negative: the majority of Slovenian emigrants crossed the border undocumented, the reason was predominantly political and less economic. In the mid-1950s, when Western Europe was becoming economically attractive, a rise in economic migration occurred, which later became the main reason for emigration. In this period, however, Slovenia stops being only a country of emigration and has turned to a country of immigration. Especially in the second half of the 1970s, Slovenia faced immigration from former Yugoslav Republics and temporary migration of Slovenian ‘guest workers’, mostly to Germany and
  2. 2. Austria. The net migration of Slovenia in comparison to the other Yugoslav Republics was positive, between 3,000 and 5,000 per year in the period between 1960 and 1974. Between 1975 and 1980 net migration was much higher, between 5,000 to 9,000 immigrants per year. Migration flows between Slovenia and other Yugoslav Republics were predominantly the consequence of economic factors. Economical development of Slovenia was an important pull factor which influenced demand for labour, partly also because of the Slovenian emigration. Movements were also the consequence of unemployment in other republics. One feature of migration movements between Slovenia and the rest of Yugoslavia was defined by trade policy that did not encourage relocation of capital but rather migration of workforce and some would argue the absence of internal migration policy in Yugoslavia. This migration was mainly temporary, mostly seasonal, mainly for the needs of construction industry and tourism. For the temporary migrations there are no statistical data and only scarce research (Mežnarič 1996, Genorio 1989, Malačič 1991). Immigrants to Slovenia mainly came from three territories of Yugoslavia, firstly from Slovene-Croatian border areas (about 10,000 in the years 1982-1990); secondly from the “central Yugoslav territory” , consisting of the northern and western part of Bosnia, Croatian Posavina and eastern Slavonia and Serbian Bačka, Srem, Vojvodina and Mačva ( 38,000 in the period 1982-90, around 26,000 from Bosnia); and thridly, from “southern Yugoslav territories” consisting of the central part of Kosovo, northeastern part of Macedonia and the area of Sandžak. These immigrants mainly settled in greater area of Ljubljana, Celje and Velenje, areas appealing due to their location, degree of economic development and especially for many job opportunities in the so-called industrial half moon and in the territory bordering Croatia and along Slovenian coast, where immigrants found work in different industries and tourism (Kodelja 1992). These immigrants were young people, in majority men between 20 and 39, and women aged between 14 and 34, who finished at least primary, vocational or secondary education in their home environment and they mainly worked in transport, metal and construction industries and the health sector (Kreigher 1992, Jakoš 1994). On the other hand, economic emigration was the most intensive in the second half of the 1960s and at the beginning of the 1970s, mainly to western European countries where there were work shortages. Educational structure of emigrants from Slovenia was somewhat higher compared to immigrants to Slovenia. In the beginning the economic migration was believed to be temporary. Later, especially since the 1970s it became clear that the majority of temporary migration was turning into a permanent one. Migration flows have slowed down due to a changed economic situation, reduction of
  3. 3. GDP, rise of unemployment and have changed radically after the 1990s, especially due to the independence of Slovenia in 1991, political crisis and break-up of Yugoslavia. Slovenia met mass influx of people looking for a shelter from war areas of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. As Croatian refugees mainly returned due to a tripartite agreement between Slovenia, Croatia and UNCHR, refugees from Bosnia and Hercegovina either moved to other countries, partially returned but many stayed under the temporary protection scheme which left their status in limbo for quite many years. At the same time immigration, particularly of workers for construction industry continued, maily from the traditional areas, but also became more diversified. At the end of the 1990s there were 42,000 foreigners in the country, representing 2.1 percent of the total population (the EU average was 3.6 to 9%). Among them, three quarters had temporary residence in Slovenia, 16 percent had permanent residence and 10 per cent were refugees. The majority were from the countries of former Yugoslavia, above all BiH. On average, foreign nationals with permanent residence were the oldest and refugees the youngest. Among the latter, the majority were women (Bevc et al, 2000) According to the 1991 Census there were 53,000 migrant workers abroad, 2 percent less than a decade ago, representing 2.7 percent of permanent residents of Slovenia. A change was made in the definition of residence in 1995 therefore people in this category are no longer recognized as residents of Slovenia (statistics monitor citizens of RS who are temporarily in a foreign country, i.e. more than three months and have reported their absence). Their number was smaller at the end of 1999 (30,000) than of the category of emigrants (emigrant workers. Accession to the EU has led to significant population increases, according to the Slovenian government's statistics agency (SURS). Immigration has been increasing annually at an average rate of 50% since 2004. According to Eurostat figures Slovenia has seen the third highest increase in immigration in the EU in 2007. The first was the Czech Republic, with a 141.8% growth over the previous year, followed by Denmark, with 131.7% growth. With the exception of 2010, every year more people immigrated to Slovenia than emigrated from it. The highest net migration was recorded in 2008. In 2011 the second lowest value of net migration in the last seven years was recorded – 2,059 people more immigrated to Slovenia than emigrated from it. At the same time, Slovenia has been characterized by negative net migration of Slovenian citizens for more than a decade, with net migration lower among women until 2011 when the ratio between genders changed: net migration of men was 97 persons lower than that of women.
  4. 4. Intra-EU mobility however did not have a substantial impact on the Slovenian labour market in terms of mobility of Slovenian workers. There are various reasons for the low mobility of Slovenian economic migrants with migration associated with knowledge of social and other rights, language and the like. Even better wages do not persuade low-paid workers to move or commute to another EU Member State. No significant changes are expected in future, perhaps only slightly increased mobility in the border areas with neighbouring EU member states. In regard to impact of Union preference principle on the Slovenian labour market, an increase of Slovakian construction workers was recorded shortly after the accession of both the countries to the EU. The Slovenian employers however, as already pointed out prefer already traditional construction workers in Slovenia, originating from the Western Balkans, in particular from Bosnia and Herzegovina. II Slovenian immigration policy Resolution on the migration policy of the Republic of Slovenia (1999 and 2002) is the main document defining Slovenian immigration policy. It sets out the core elements of the policy, which comprises a number of fields subdivided into several sub-policies: asylum, immigration, immigration management, especially combating irregular migration, smuggling of migrants and trafficking in human beings and integration. The Resolution stipulates six core principles that guide immigration policy in Slovenia: the principle of solidarity or international sharing of burdens and responsibility, which presupposes the duty of protection and assistance to refugees; the principles of responsibility towards citizens and the state, which relates in particular to the regular, free movement of people and regulation of the process of naturalisation; the principle of respect for the rule of law and the protection of human rights; the principle of long-term macroeconomic efficiency , which determines the relatively free migrations, in particular the access of foreigners to the Slovenian labour market; the principle of historical responsibility; the principle of equality, liberty and mutual cooperation, in particular in relation to integration policy. According to the document, these principles should be implemented through a variety of measures. These include international and regional cooperation and, in particular, full compliance with EU law. Special emphasis should be put on integration policy, especially on the need for de facto integration of aliens and prevention of discrimination and segregation, while simultaneously ensuring that
  5. 5. immigrants continue to maintain and practice their cultures and values in accordance with their personal integrity and dignity, yet within the legal framework of the Republic of Slovenia. Concrete programmes should be establishes to promote widespread awareness of the different aspects, causes and consequences of migration The programmes should contribute to the prevention of xenophobia and would, furthermore, be backed up by an institutional framework that ensures the horizontal and vertical cooperation or state organs, as well as the organs of local government. Last but not least, state organs should cooperate closely with scientific, research and educational institutions and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working in the field of migration Strategy on economic migration (2010) is another piece of policy. Slovenia mainly responded to labour shortages according to current needs of the labour market without a well thought and long-term vision or strategy of economic migration. With this in mind and in the view of the changing EU policy landscape, in particular the 2008 European Pact on Immigration and Asylum from 2008 and the new political mandate of the Stockholm Programme and an even closer co-operation between Member States with Third countries in managing migration flows, Slovenia designed and ought to implement policy of legal labour migration by setting up a set of measures that will: (i) alleviate the effects of demographic deficit in terms of reduced working age and economically active population as well as reduce temporary disparities in the labour market; (ii) increase human resources, encourage innovation and entrepreneurial activity, maintain and promote economic competitiveness; (iii) enable acquisition of experience of Slovenians working abroad and reduce the brain drain from Slovenia as well as the countries of origin of immigrants in Slovenia by encouraging the circular migration; (iv) promote employment of highly skilled migrants; (v) strengthen relations with third countries of origin of migrants by bilateral agreements, promoting the return of economic migrants, and their reintegration into society of origin and (vi) enable fair treatment of immigrants by establishing a more ambitious integration policy that would include all relevant areas for harmonious integration of migrants into the Slovenian society. Foreign policy dimension Economic co-operation with third countries is an important part of the implementation of a comprehensive migration policy. This co-operation particularly concerns the Western Balkans, which is of special significance for Slovenia and Slovenian economy. The
  6. 6. development and lasting stability in the Balkan region is also high on the country’s foreign policy agenda. In March 2010 the Government adopted the Proposal of guidelines for the activities of the Republic of Slovenia in the Western Balkans until 2020, defining priority areas and actions that are necessary for a more coherent and coordinated performance of both government and economic entities. In accordance with these guidelines, the following measures relating to legal employment of nationals from the countries in the region are to be pursued: (i) Identification of advantages and the demand for employment of the nationals of the Western Balkan countries. These have a comparative advantage over migrants from other regions due to geographical and linguistic proximity and the traditional presence in the Slovenian labour market; (ii) Encouragement of immigration in line with the labour market needs and a simplification and unification of admission procedures for the nationals of the Western Balkan countries for the purposes of work and employment as well as promotion of labour mobility. In this process, further efforts will be placed on ensuring social security for TCNs working in Slovenia; (iii) Conclusion of bilateral agreements with the Western Balkan countries concerning employment of their nationals in Slovenia will be based on the principles of Slovenian migration policy as outlined in 2002 as well as following the reference framework of EU policies on the establishment of a comprehensive migration policy; (iv) These bilateral agreements will enable Slovenia to satisfy labour demand through migration and mobility according to the needs of the Slovenian economy and the situation on the labour market as well as demographic indicators in the forthcoming period. The Government believes that bilateral agreements could stimulate a debate on the establishment of an area of free movement of workers within the Western Balkans already before the accession of all countries of the region to the European Union. At present, there are two bilateral agreements, one between Slovenia and Macedonia (ratified in 2008), mainly concerning seasonal worker migrants from Macedonia, and one on the employment of nationals of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Slovenia. Slovenia emphasises the importance of development policies in order to encourage new jobs creation and better living conditions as well as the overall progress of both the countries. Principles of the agreement also follow the reference framework of the EU policies, with emphasis on strengthening the partnership dialogue with third countries and the importance of the beneficial effects of circular migration, voluntary return of migrant workers to the country of origin and ethical recruitment in favour of reducing the brain drain. The agreement does not apply to “EU Blue Card” or to nationals of the country of origin under Council Directive of 25 2009/50/EC concerning the conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals for the purposes of highly
  7. 7. qualified employment. The legislative framework The legislative framework for the management and administration of migration first developed after Slovenia's independence in 1991 when the Aliens Act was adopted as a part of Slovenia’s independence legislation.1 The act defined the conditions for and methods of the entry into, departure from and residence of aliens in the Republic of Slovenia. In August 1999 it has been replaced by the new Aliens Act, which has been revised and amended several times after its adoption, mainly transposing directives and implementing regulations of the EU. A new Act was adopted in 2011 and, inter alia, defines conditions for the entry of aliens into the country, visas, residence permits for temporary and permanent residence of aliens, annulment of residence, departure from the country, deportation and permission to remain, procedures and competent bodies, processing and protection of personal data and the establishment of the identity of an alien, the provisions on travel and other documents and permits and assistance in the integration of aliens. The Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are the main competent bodies executing the Aliens Act, the former also including the Police. The system of economic migration management was set up by the Employment of Aliens Act. The first act was adopted in July 1992. In order to provide a better mechanism for identifying and regulating various forms of work of migrants, a new Employment and Work of Aliens Act, came into force in 2001 and has been since that date amended twice. A new act was adopted in 2011 and still keeps work permit as a fundamental mechanism for regulation of work of TCNs in Slovenia. Responsible institution for implementing this Act is the Ministry of Labour, Family and Social Affairs with the supervision of the implementation being the responsibility of the Labour Inspectorate of the Republic of Slovenia. Acute problems in terms of human rights III Pressing issues The main challenges for the liberal migration policy agenda are the following: the absence of a coherent and comprehensive strategy addressing immigration problems; the discrepancy between the proclaimed normative framework and its application and effectiveness in practice; the maltreatment and economic abuse of migrant workers and the 1 Here I do not discuss legal acts in the field of international protection.
  8. 8. challenges presented by trafficking in human beings and irregular migration. Irregular migration, smuggling and trafficking Slovenia is primarily, due to its geographic position, at the crossroads between the West and Eastern Europe and the Balkans, a transit country and to a lesser extent a source and destination country of irregular migration. This mainly takes form of smuggling of migrants and trafficking in human beings, for the purposes of commercial sexual and labour exploitation. In particular following the full implementation of the Schengen acquis, the police have detected another form, of exploitation of trafficked persons, whereby, the most vulnerable individuals, the disabled and children, are forced into begging. Given the seriousness of the problem, Slovenia has had since 2004 a National action plan against trafficking in human beings. Its objective is to define the key countertrafficking activities to be implemented within a period of two consecutive years. These normally involve the adoption of new legislative measures, the investigation and prosecution of criminals offences related to trafficking in human beings, prevention in the form of awareness-raising and research activities, and assistance to and protection of trafficked victims, as well as training and international cooperation. Much of the effort to combat trafficking in human beings has been invested in educational and general awareness-raising programmes (since 2007, the theme of human trafficking is also introduced into the standard Slovenian primary school curriculum as a part of the sevenths and eights grade course on Citizen’s Education and Ethics). Considering irregular migration more generally, legislation has been brought into compliance with EU law. A TCN shall be deemed to reside illegally in Slovenia if he/she has illegally entered the country, if his/her visa was annulled or has expired, if he/she is not in possession of a residence permit or if his/her permit has expired, if he/she resides in Slovenia in contravention of the entry title or if the time for which he/she has been permitted to reside Slovenia on the basis of a legal act or international treaty has expired. If such a migrant fails to leave Slovenia within a specified period, the competent authority will start the procedure for voluntary return, meaning cooperation with the police. One who does not voluntarily return to one’s country of origin will be deported from Slovenia i.e. be brought to the state border by the police, directed across the border and handed over to the bodies of this country. Furthermore, return may also be implemented on the basis of agreements which Slovenia has concluded with other countries. As for economic migrants, whose residence is bound to their job or work, no other
  9. 9. concrete measures or incentives for return of economic migrants have been adopted. There is also scarce information on the extent of ‘illegally’ resident and working migrants in specific sectors such as agriculture, construction, housekeeping and related domestic works. It is estimated that their number is low as also suggested by data on illegal border crossing as well as return of persons to foreign law enforcement. Therefore, with a view to increasing the effectiveness of inspections, there seems to be no risk assessment on basis of which the sectors of activity in which the employment of ‘illegally staying’ migrants from third countries would be regularly identified. There are some administrative and judicial avenues in place for the protection of irregular migrants. However, there are some aspects of the treatment of irregular migrants that call for improvement. The maltreatment and economic abuse of migrant workers Recently, particularly the exploitation of legally employed migrant workers has been highlighted, notably living conditions and their legal situation, particularly with securing their rights. It was found that economic migrants in possession of either an employment permit or a permit for work represent a vulnerable group of migrants, exposed to unequal treatment and violations of their rights. Partly this is so because adequate and understandable information is lacking. Employers rarely inform migrants of the opportunities provided by law as for example about a possibility that enables a migrant to obtain a personal work permit for a period of three years after two years of continuous employment with the same employer. Such a permit allows a free access to the Slovenian labour market. This is not in the employers’ interest since they wish to keep migrants tied to work permits that they had obtained for their workers. Consequently, this may lead to lower standard of rights for migrants as well as for domestic workers. Representatives of trade unions have pointed out that migrant workers often work under worse conditions as defined by Slovenian labour legislation causing the socalled social dumping. To tackle this problem the Employment Service of Slovenia together with the Ministry of Labour, Family and Social Affairs took a pro-active approach which led to a project which promotes employability, education and social integration of migrant workers and their families. Within this project and with the assistance from the European Social Fund, a new communication channel was set up to provide migrants with relevant information on the conditions of employment and work in Slovenia. The aim of information centres, the so-called INFO-points is to prevent exploitation, discrimination and possible unemployment of migrants after the expiry of work permits, while also allowing better access
  10. 10. to new jobs by making migrant workers more competitive in the labour market. Another topical issue which has been exposed is the accommodation or adequate housing of labour migrants. In 2008, organisations of civil society attracted the media and public attention to the problem of unsuitable housing conditions of migrants on temporary work in Slovenia, such as inadequate accommodation facilities or high cost of rents. Partly this problem came to the fore because of the substantial increase in employment of migrant workers as a result of major labour demand. In 2009, the Inter-departmental Working Group was established to regulate the field of housing of migrant workers. Various stakeholders also pointed out that labour migrants are abused by their employers. As already indicated, workers are tied to their employers and this dependence increasingly leads to certain forms of economic exploitation of migrants. In some cases employers do not pay health insurance or other contributions for their workers or even wages while workers are being deported because their work permits have expired. Some forms of exploitation are very serious and reminiscent of slavery-like situations characteristic for trafficking in human beings. This also led to desperate reactions of migrant workers such as hunger strikes. IV Future challenges The current situation and trends on the labour market suggest that there will be a shortage of domestic labour also in the future. This will particularly concern construction, manufacturing, electric and motor vehicle activities, restaurant services and tourism. The need for skilled and highly-skilled workforce exists in information and communication technologies, biotechnology as well as forestry and in the health sector. In the latter in particular, Slovenia faces similar problems as a significant number of other EU Member States as well as some other European states. In 2009, there was an estimated 20 per cent shortage in nursing professionals with only 40 new jobs per year taken by TCNs. Annual needs for medical doctors are estimated from 517 to 970. A further decline of medical doctors is expected from 2010 due to retirements and insufficient number of graduates from medical schools. Some measures to remedy this situation have already been taken: the enrolment to medical schools on annual basis increased for about 45 per cent (from 600 in 2004 to 1050 students in 2010) and several new schools were established in 2008 and 2009. In accordance with the draft Health Services Act and the Resolution on National plan of health care 2008-2013 a network of providers of public health activities at all levels should be
  11. 11. laid down, including calculation of precise needs for labour and skills. The recruitment of medical doctors and nursing professionals from abroad and the problems there off are also related to eligibility requirements for employment, specifically language skills and recognised qualifications. However, there is a perception of a degree of resentment from the professional chambers to “import” foreign workers. In addition to these needs, demographic trends suggest that we can expect that during the whole of the 21st century Slovenia as well as the EU will have to cope with the rapid shortage of domestic labour. The demographic challenge will have to be addressed with a constructive set of different yet interdependent policies. One of these policies is an active immigration policy, where liberals should promote and actively work for the improvement of human rights of migrants, thus a policy that enables fair treatment of migrants from third countries and their harmonious integration into the Slovenian society. Therefore, it is recommended to establish an ambitious policy which would include a comprehensive and coherent integration of all relevant areas for integration of immigrants with legal and other measures for legal security and residence of foreign nationals, protection of their family, nondiscriminatory access to institutions, goods and services, labour market inclusion and for social integration such as access to education, social welfare, health care, housing and participation in a democratic process. This would have to include also a proper institutional infrastructure for the integration policy implementation.