Italy not reversing brain drain

Knowledge economy motor of EU mobility says ESPON report

(ANSA) - BRUSSELS, SEP 24 - (by Alessandra Briganti) Young, qualified and ever increasingly attracted by the opportunities offered by the knowledge economy: this is the profile of the movers, European citizens of a working age (20-64) who live in an EU country different from their country of origin.
    And among the countries that register more departures than arrivals, Italy is signally failing to reverse the brain drain.
    This is shown by an analysis of an ESPON study programme, specialised in EU regional studies, devoted to intra-European migratory flows and their connection to the knowledge economy that links learning, innovation and competitiveness, as for instance happens with start-ups and the technology sector.
    Over the years mobility in the EU has changed its nature.
    The percentage of those who decide to move to another State of the Union has increased, but by a lower rate than in the past.
    Growing, according to an EU poll on the labour force (EU-LFT), cited in the study, is the proportion of those possessing a university qualification, and those who choose to live in an EU State different from that of origin.
    This proportion was 34% in 2019, up 9% on 2009.
    Austria, Belgium, France, Germany and Spain are the major destination countries for qualified workers. Before its divorce from the EU, the UK was attracting the most. On the flip side, among the main countries that boast the sad record of the biggest brain drain are Italy, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria and Portugal.
    According to the researchers, there is a correlation between the knowledge economy, more dynamic and competitive above all in western and northern Europe, and intra-European mobility.
    Young qualified workers, according to the researchers, have higher mobility rates than other segments of the population and tend to settle in regions where the knowledge economy is more greatly developed.
    In the destination regions and countries, the immigration of highly qualified workers is often considered an important engine of development; while on the contrary for the countries of provenance the brain drain has negative implications in local areas, whether economic, social or demographic.
    From this standpoint, the concentration of the knowledge economy in certain areas helps increase territorial imbalances among member States, imbalances that can fuel political instability and undermine European cohesion.
    It will thus be up to the EU's cohesion policy to reduce the structural disparities that make some regions less attractive in the eyes of investors and workers, not only by promoting investment in R&D and digitization, but also by valorising local knowledge and resources, providing services and infrastructure of general interest and favouring horizontal and vertical cooperation among stakeholders, in particular universities and SMEs. (ANSA).


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