Maintaining our Independence: The Irish Case Study
With reference (1 2 3) to what I’ve been saying over the last few days about the beneficial effects of having many small countries, on what grounds could someone deny that putting a stop to emigration was a huge factor in the Irish government’s motivation to improve this country after the 1980s? Reforms were politically necessary, if not because people were suffering, then because continued emigration would have left the state with nobody to tax. So the state changed, and Ireland became attractive to people from all over the world.
Source: CSO (pdf)
But for the state to react to our migration flows, it needed to be independent. The pressure to change would not have come from anywhere else. The governments in migrant destinations such as the UK were happy to provide Irish people a home and boost their own taxpaying populations.
This is why a large political entity is not likely to closely monitor what happens to its smaller or more peripheral parts, particularly if people in those parts are only moving internally within that country. It doesn’t experience incentives in the same way that a locally elected government would. From the perspective of the larger entity, small regions don’t offer much by way of taxes, and if people from those regions rarely leave the country altogether, few resources are actually lost to the state.
And so, in the same way that we don’t expect the Irish government to be sensitive to migration flows from Leitrim, there is little reason to expect that the EU will react if Ireland suffers emigration again.