About 6,000 doctors from Greece have emigrated to Germany until the end of 2012 at a time of rising shortages of medical and other health staff. What’s more, the Greek government invested 540 million euros in their training. This is only one of the effects of German-Greek “cooperation”
Doctors and scientists at zero training costs for Germany, cheap labour for German hotels, leisure villages for German pensioners in Greece, a flood of German-made equipment for renewable energy on farmland : these are just some of the effects of German-Greek cooperation led by a little known German politician Hans Joachim Fuchtel.
Germany’s predatory plan to take advantage of a fellow EU country on its knees kicked off in 2011 when a Memorandum of Cooperation was signed to promote “reforms” to Greek local authorities. The signaturies were the Ministry of Interior, the Association of Regions, the Central Union of Municipalities of Greece and Germany’s Ministry of Finance and Technology.
Giorgos Rakkas, a Thessaloniki-based activist says the agreement is a “clear German intervention in local authorities” and together with other concerned local people he’s been researching the issue and alerting the public and local councillors, very few it had turned out understood its real impact.
‘Basically, this so-called Greco-German cooperation is simply a way to change Greece’s municipalities to fit the model of a federal neoliberal Europe that the Germans are trying to impose on the European Union,” he says. ” And it impacts on growth, education, healthcare, green energy and agricultural production.’
One of the upshots of the deal is a massive brain drain from Greece to Germany, which Rakkas describes as ‘human pillage”..
In North Rhine – Westphalia, where nearly a quarter of the German population live, the number of foreign doctors now number 9,400. Among them, 1,125 (12.1%) are Greeks. In total, at the end of 2013, 2,847 of the foreign doctors working in Germany are Greek.
There’s been an exodus of nurses too amid a rise in demand for foreign health workers in Germany.
German reforms in the health sector have intensified the working regimes of health workers, cut costs and seek to maximize profits. Nursing is one of the main victims of the reform. Kale Kunke, of German public service union Verdi says: “First of all, very few young Germans choose this career path and even if they do, after 5 years they ask for reduced hours because it is impossible to sustain a full-time position; after 10 years, they drop out or seek jobs as nurses other countries, for example, in Switzerland […] And now, we are exporting the German crisis to your country, by recruiting nurses from Greece and trained by Greece.”
And this at a time of staff shortages in the austerity-hit Greek health service.
This in not only happening at an individual level. For example, there’s a pilot program ”Steglitz-Zehlendorf-Langadas” that provides for 11 young unemployed from Langadas, a large town in Thessaloniki, to travel to Berlin as part of a training programme, earning 818 euros per month, although, recently, Germany introduced the minimum wage of 1,400 euros. In 2015, there will be 250 places on the scheme .
”These measures are presented as a key lever in the fight against unemployment in Greece. However, it would be good to ask the question whether the emigration of young people is the best way to deal with this problem, ” notes Rakkas.
This brain drain and exodus is adding to Greece’s demographic crisis. Last year, the country’s population declined by 70,000 people and in total about 300,000 Greeks have left the country in the years of the austerity crisis. Most of them young unemployed graduates. ”It’s important to say that every year, nearly 70,000 young people go to university. So its clear that with emigration, we lose whole swatchs of young scientists and other specialists, a huge loss in terms of human resources,” he added.
The Greek state spends about 69,000 euros for each graduate engineer from Athens (Ethniko Metsovio Polytechneio) Technical University, 17,300 euros for electrical engineers, 95,000 euros for each graduate of the Faculty of Medicine of Athens and 9,180 euros for each graduate of the Faculty of Law of Athens. At the end of 2012, the number of doctors who emigrated, living and working in Germany, reached 6,000. ” Therefore, a simple calculation shows that the leak of Greek doctors is equivalent to the loss of investment in ‘human resources’ of the order of 540 million euros,” says G. Rakkas.
Leading the initiative from the German side is Hans Joachim Fuchtel, who like some colonial overlord has been stationed at the at the behest of Chancellor Angela Merkel in Thessaloniki to oversee Greece’s spending of EU funds. Fuchtel, dubbed in the Greek press as the “Lord of EU-Funds”, recalls the time, in 1832, when Otto, Prince of Bavaria, was made King of Greece under the protection of the Great Powers (United Kingdom, Russian Empire and France).
”Of course, Fuchtel has repeatedly prompted Greece’s youth to emigrate to Germany,” says Rakkas. “German towns have institutions offering apprenticeships set up to give Greeks the knowledge and expertise that will enable them to easily find a job afterwards in German cities,” said Fuchtel.
The reason? Deutsche Welle explains: ‘That Germany needs migrants is undeniable. Not only because the Germans themselves have few children, resulting in collapse of the social security and pensions, but also because there is a shortage in skilled workers, not only highly specialized areas, such as new technologies, but even in nursing staff for hospitals and nursing homes. ”
Thus, Greek medics and scientists, but also unskilled workers depart for Germany by the thousands to work long hours for low wages, due to to sky high unemployment at home – which is largely down to austerity policies imposed by the German-led EU. And Greece, meanwhile, loses skilled labour and scientific resources in which it has invested millions.
Translation / edit by Revolting Europe