According to portfolio.hu, more than 600,000 Hungarians live abroad in the European Union, which is a way bigger number compared to previous estimations. Officially, most people live in Germany, but there’s also more than five thousand Hungarians in Denmark. The conclusions are mainly based on data given by the member states.
We love the EU, because we can go about loose
The government has been battling with Brussels for quite a while, the most sensitive question being the refugee policy. However, the majority of Hungarians still support the EU and Hungary being part of it. Based on the newest Eurobarometer survey, 46% of Hungarians trust the EU, while this is only 39% in the case of the government.
When asked about the best part of being a member state, most people mention the free flow of goods, services and people, and the Erasmus scholarship programme. When asked separately about the free flow of work force, 75-80% of Hungarians support working in other countries of the European Union. This seems to be the EU’s biggest achievement for Hungarians.
The problem with former estimations
Despite the fact that Hungary’s been an EU member since 2004, nobody can tell exactly how many Hungarians live abroad in the union. The estimations vary between 300 thousand and 1 million people. But there are several problems with these.
Firstly, the methodology differs by country. Secondly, statistics don’t include illegal workers. Also, the surveys don’t touch upon commuters, which would be especially important in the case of Austria. The number of people who return is even more questionable. Lastly, the definition of emigrants is not consensual. Are commuters and seasonal workers emigrants? Or only those who start a new life abroad?
How can we decide?
After realising the difficulties, Portfolio decided to make a fresh database about Hungarians living in the European Union. Naturally they could only turn to the already existing statistics, still they tried to give an up-to-date summary. They left out neighbouring countries, except for Austria and Croatia, due to transborder minorities. They contacted all member states via email, and only failed to receive answers from Bulgaria, Estonia, Malta, the Netherlands and Portugal.
Based on this, almost 570,000 Hungarians live abroad in the EU. It’s not surprising that most people live in Germany, but the French data seemed to be unrealistically high. Moreover, the official statistics of the UK was suspiciously low, so they decided to revise and correct the data.
The problem with the French statistics was probably technical, so they turned to the estimation of Eurostat instead. 140,000 Hungarians “vanished” this way, but this was compensated by Great Britain. The website believes that realistically 200-300 thousand Hungarians live there, which is way more than the last official statistics. In the case of the countries, from which they didn’t receive answers, they turned to the data of Eurostat.
The final number was still around 600,000 after the corrections. Of course, this doesn’t mean that more than half a million Hungarians left the country in the past couple of years, because there were already several living abroad before Hungary’s joining. For instance, 12,000 Hungarians lived in Great Britain and 31,000 lived in Austria in 2003. Another curiosity is that 60,000 Hungarians lived in Germany in 2009, which means that their number tripled in eight years.
All in all, it can be stated that several hundreds of thousand people tried their luck abroad in Europe for longer or shorter periods since Hungary had joined the European Union. Out of them, more than half a million people probably still live and work abroad illegally.