More Eastern Europeans working in the Netherlands

On 31 December 2015, there were 855 thousand migrants in the Netherlands from other EU countries or candidate countries. This is 40 thousand up from two years previously, as reported by Statistics Netherlands (CBS) in the Migration monitor (Migrantenmonitor, Dutch only).

Over the same period, the number of Bulgarian migrant workers in the Netherlands went up from 3 thousand to 8 thousand, while the number of migrant workers from Romania increased from 6 thousand to 13 thousand. As of 2014, Bulgarian and Romanian nationals can work in the Netherlands without work permit restrictions. Notwithstanding the growing share of nationals from these two countries, by far the largest group of migrant workers (156 thousand) in 2015 were Polish nationals.

The Migration monitor was commissioned by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment and gives an overview of the EU migrant population in the Netherlands. The monitor defines migrants as persons born in one of the EU-27 countries or candidate countries who are living and/or working in the Netherlands. On 31 December 2015, this was a group of in total 855 thousand persons, including 622 thousand from EU member states and 193 thousand from candidate member states. The vast majority in the latter group were from Turkey (191 thousand).
Constituting over one-third (35 percent) are nationals of EU member states in Central and Eastern Europe, including mostly Polish migrants (205 thousand), followed at a large distance by Bulgarians (24 thousand) and Romanians (22 thousand).

On 31 December 2015, nearly three-quarters of migrants from Central and Eastern Europe were in work either as employees or as self-employed. There is no data on the number of unregistered, unemployed EU migrants in the Netherlands. This means the percentage share of employed EU migrants in this analysis may be higher than the actual share.

Employed and unemployed European migrants in the Netherlands (including seasonal workers), Q4 2015
 Employees or self-employedUnemployed
EU (EU-27) member states61.938.1
Central and Eastern European (EU-11) member states74.125.9

Bulgarian and Romanian migrant workers more than doubled

As of 1 January 2014, people from Romania and Bulgaria are permitted to work in the Netherlands without restrictions. Since then, the number of Romanian and Bulgarian employees has increased more sharply than was the case in previous years: that year, the number of Romanian migrant workers grew by 4 thousand to 10 thousand while the number of Bulgarian workers more than doubled, from 3 thousand to over 6 thousand. This growth levelled off somewhat in 2015, with an additional 3 thousand Romanian workers and nearly 2 thousand more Bulgarian workers.
Whereas the number of migrant workers from Bulgaria and Romania increased, the number of self-employed declined between December 2013 and December 2014. This may be related to the so-called VAR declaration (VAR-verklaring), which used to offer the opportunity to start working in the Netherlands without a work permit. This included a group of ‘false self-employed’ who came to work in the Netherlands. In 2015, the number of self-employed from Bulgaria and Romania remained approximately the same.

Among Bulgarian migrants living and/or working in the Netherlands on 31 December 2015, slightly less than half (49 percent) were employed. At 63 percent, the share of employed was much larger among the Romanian migrant population. Of the Bulgarian migrants registered here, 8 percent were receiving some form of social benefit in December 2015, including AOW (Dutch state pension), versus 10 percent of registered Romanians. These shares are both below the average for migrants from Central and Eastern European member states (13 percent).
Municipal registration benefit claimants by country of origin, December

More Polish workers as well

By far the largest group of EU migrants in the Netherlands is from Poland. The number of Polish migrant workers increased by 3 thousand in 2014 and by 6 thousand the following year, reaching a total of 156 thousand.
Among the 205 thousand Polish nationals who are currently living/working in the Netherlands, 80 percent are employed or self-employed. The number of Polish migrants on social benefits increased by 2 thousand in 2015, although the share remained 14 percent. The majority were receiving unemployment (WW) benefits.