On a recent trip to Varna, on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast, I was reminded of Israel as it was at the end of the 70s, when, as a young man, I moved back to the country of my birth. Israel was still classified as a developing county. Since then Israel has developed into the start-up nation, an economic powerhouse, and a full member of the OECD. This was achieved through the energy of its youthful population, motivated in no small measure by the patriotism and a sense of national purpose. These are the essential tools that any developing country needs to develop and grow. I pray that Bulgaria, freed from the tyranny of Communism, will also become a wealthy country. But I fear it will not, for out of a population of 8 million, 2 million are already living outside the country. What’s more, the patriotic spirit that a country needs to grow and develop is being undermined by an EU philosophy which condemns all nationalism, except for that of the EU itself.
Nigel Lawson, a former Chancellor of the Exchequer, once said that the National Health Service (NHS) was the nearest thing the British had to a religion. For many Remainers (those supporting Britain’s continuing EU membership), the European Union has achieved similar status. It is no coincidence that in the current debate over membership of the EU, the large number of foreign doctors and nurses in British hospitals is mentioned frequently as evidence of the munificence of the EU. It is if two great strands of faith have met up in English hospital wards.
Ironically, it is those on the left of the political spectrum, those educated middle-class socialists, who are most in favor of this modern colonialism. I see no indication that those extolling the virtues of uncontrolled immigration into the UK have ever given a thought to the effect of these policies in the countries providing the workforce.
Unrestricted immigration is a disaster for the poorer countries of Europe; it arrests their development and, not surprisingly, has the most detrimental effect on the poorest. Britain benefits from an input of trained manpower to staff the NHS, but does anyone give a damn that in Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova and elsewhere, their health services are collapsing from a shortage of doctors and nurses? I would argue that the EU policy of free migration has become the biggest people-trafficking scam in history.
This is how this new imperialism works; the poor countries of the Balkans spend their scarce resources on training health and other professionals, who then leave, tempted by the salaries of the more developed nations of Europe. The UK gets ready-trained health staff on the cheap, and the Bulgarian health service, for example, already struggling to overcome the devastation of the communist years, suffers from ever dropping ratio of medical staff to patients.
There are several academic investigations into the effect of this economic migration from the poorer to the rich countries. All are bad news for the poorer nations. According to an OECD report, “Bulgaria: Country Health Profile 2017”, half of the country’s locally trained GPs live abroad, which leads to a weak primary care and over-reliance on hospitals, with over half of the health budget being allocated to pharmaceuticals and inpatient care.
The Bulgarian health services need to treat an ever-aging population, with funding reduced by the exit of economically active taxpayers. In return, the EU funds a few road building and sewage projects (with huge self-congratulatory billboards) and puts money into other worthwhile causes. But the real resources of the country (its young educated people) are being drained away to serve the interest of the richer countries.
A European Commission Report entitled “Social Impact of Emigration and Rural-Urban Migration in Central and Eastern Europe — Bulgaria” sums up the situation as follows: