In the first nine months of 2007, nearly 13 thousand Bulgarians, Poles and Romanians have settled in the Netherlands, i.e. nearly twice as many as in the same period last year. The increase mainly occurred among immigrants from Bulgaria and Romania, the two countries which joined the European Union (EU) on 1 January 2007.
Sharp increase after entry into the European Union
After joining the EU on 1 January this year, immigration from Bulgaria and Romania grew considerably. In the period January–September, 5.6 thousand Bulgarians and Romanians came to the Netherlands, as against about one thousand in the same period last year. After Poland joined the EU in May 2004, a similar increase was recorded.
Immigration from Bulgaria, Poland and Romania
Nature of immigration changes
In the latter half of the 1990s and around the turn of the millennium, the majority of immigrants from the Eastern European countries were women. It mainly concerned Polish brides who came to the Netherlands to marry a Dutchman. The situation has distinctly changed in recent years. Currently, most immigrants from Bulgaria and Romania are men in the 20–40 age bracket. This indicates a shift from family-forming to labour migration.
Share of women in immigration from Bulgaria, Poland and Romania, 1995–2007
Bulgarians tend to settle in major cities
Bulgarians and Romanians – more than other EU subjects – tend to settle in the major cities. Over 60 percent of immigrants from Bulgaria ended up in one of the four major Dutch cities in 2007. Most of them work in glasshouse horticulture in the Westland region. Polish immigrants traditionally prefer the bulb-growing and coastal dune region and the cities in the province of North Brabant.
Proportion of immigrants in one of the four major cities by country of birth, January–September 2007
Return migration still insignificant
Not all immigrants from Eastern Europe intend to settle permanently in the Netherlands. Nearly one quarter of Polish immigrants who came to the Netherlands in 2004, for example, have returned home in the period 2004-2006. For the entire immigrant population of 2004, the return rate is nearly 29 percent.