In a rating of the “50 most influential people of the Polish economy” compiled by Gazeta Prawna, a Polish newspaper, the second place was collectively occupied by labor migrants from Ukraine, who in terms of their influence on the country’s economy yielded only to the Prime Minister of Poland, Mateusz Morawieski.
“The collective hero of the Polish economy and, at the very least, an important and bright factor on our labor market. After the beginning of the Russian aggression in Crimea and a conflict in Donbas, Ukrainians began to appear not only in our farm economy or horticulture, but also across many other areas,” the newspaper wrote.
According to data from the Ministry of Labor of Poland, in 2017, Polish entrepreneurs filed work permits for nearly 1.7 million Ukrainians. This is a more than a one third increase from previous levels, while a “migration surge from the east” has grown exponentially by 350% since 2014.
Among other signs, a surge of migrants from Ukraine positively affects the social insurance system of Poland because labor migrants are required to pay social dues. In addition, Ukrainian migrants help resolve demographic problems as they help contain, to a certain degree, a rapidly aging Polish society due to a low birth rate.
The newspaper even expressed concerns that wealthier countries from Western Europe could over time lure a large volume of Ukrainian migrants away from Poland as the country has neglected creating conditions for their permanent settlement (“rooting”).
Mateusz Morawieski, who topped the ranking, was credited with the impressive growth of tax revenues, a sustainable surplus of the state budget, high rates of economic growth, cutting down national debt, and generally making positive effects over all important decisions that shaped the economic policy.
In December 2017, in an indirect polemic with Morawieski, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Pavlo Klimkin argued that Ukrainians actually were saviors of the Polish economy. “Ukrainians with their work really rescue Polish economy. I know cases where Ukrainians are offered a higher pay [than Poles] because they are more flexible and extremely focused on what they do,” Klimkin said.
According to the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry’s estimates, as of December 2017, there were approximately 1 million Ukrainians living in Poland. “Then there is a legitimate question: who rescues whom? In this sense, we rescue the Polish economy. But with our Polish friends we will always maintain a friendly dialogue, including on sensitive matters from our shared history,” Klimkin said.
According to the CIA World Factbook, in 2017, the Polish economic growth rate was 3.8%, in 2016 it was 2.6%, and in 2015, 3.9%. In 2017, the gross domestic product per capita in Poland amounted to USD 29,300.