Experts believe that the changes that will take place due to the Brexit vote will affect much more than the United Kingdom. The entire European Union will experience some adjustments once the Brexit decision goes into effect. Poland seems to be the country that could face the most disruption. All Poles living in Poland and in the UK seem to have an opinion of what Brexit means for them.
Influence of Poles
Poles quickly moved from their homeland to the UK once the EU agreement opened the borders for easy travel. The influence of these new arrivals in undeniable.
- Over 800,000 Polish-born individuals now live in the United Kingdom.
- Poles are the largest group in the UK of people not born in the country.
- The Polish language is the second most common language spoken in England
and the third most spoken language in the UK.
- Over 95 percent of the Poles that live in the United Kingdom are employed.
- Thousands of Polish ex-pats began small businesses when they arrived in
Changes Have Begun
Many Poles chose to relocate back to their homeland once the Brexit vote took place. The early move was due to a fear of how the exit from the European Union could affect travel and migration within the UK. Andrzej Stasiak, owner of the Ogloszenia UK (classifieds website for Poles in UK) says, that Poles in Britain are worried about the hassle of obtaining visas, and the potential risk of complications when they chose to leave or re-enter the country.
Other Polish-born UK residents that remain worry they will also have to leave at some point. Travel is a concern for them as well, but also concerning is what other changes could take place. Changes in their rights to work or to become citizens, as well as the rise in anti-immigrant sentiments are the top concerns. Since the Brexit vote, the harassment of people born outside the UK has increased. Many Poles now worry about their long-term safety if they remain in the UK.
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Unease in Poland
The government of Poland has a very optimistic view about the return of Poles that does not necessarily match the sentiments of the residents. The Prime Minister has stated his pleasure at the idea of the homecoming. The economic growth in Poland increases the need in the country for more workers, and this is a simple and natural solution for the problem.
The residents that feel dread about the Brexit decision are typically those that believe the vote has robbed their ability to earn a higher income in the UK. Many that once planned to move to the UK as their friends and family did before them, now plan to remain. The concern from these Poles also extends to their family that remains in the UK, and if the changes could end their frequent visits back home or make them less safe or prosperous.
Optimism in Poland
Not all Poles dislike the results of the Brexit vote. Many feel a strong dislike for the European Union and want to have control of the direction of their country without outside influence. For them, the belief is strong that the EU remains vulnerable. The Brexit vote is, in their opinion, only the first example of a country deciding to return to its independence.
It remains to be seen what Brexit will mean for Poland and its people at home and in Britain. However, many believe there should be an equal level of concern for the economy of the United Kingdom. The UK could experience a large and sudden shortage in viable employees and talent if the Poles need to exit. The change could result in complications in the relationship between Poland and the UK and the result of those complications remains to be seen.