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(Bloomberg) -- The U.K.’s divorce from the European Union is a bitter-sweet affair for Poland’s finance minister.
On one hand, the eastern European nation will lose an ally within the trading bloc: Poland and Britain are closely aligned on issues from deregulation to concern over yielding powers to Brussels, according to Mateusz Morawiecki, who’s also deputy prime minister. But on the other, Brexit may spur the return of Polish workers, easing a labor shortage that he calls a “major headache.”
“I like that Brexit is pushing some Polish citizens out of the U.K. because it’s bringing more qualified workers, more experienced workers” home, Morawiecki said Wednesday in an interview in London. “They know how very mature institutions here in London and in the U.K. work.”
Much of Europe’s ex-communist east is suffering from a dearth of workers as citizens seek higher wages in other parts of the continent. Numbering almost 1 million, Poles are the U.K.’s biggest immigrant group and their future status is still up in the air. With unemployment back home at a record-low 5 percent, a flow of arrivals would be welcomed. Brexit may also deter others from leaving in the first place.
While Morawiecki predicts the rights of his countrymen living in the U.K. will be resolved as part of a “softer” Brexit, he sees more on offer for them in Poland than before.
“We are very successful at bringing jobs and financial institutions and other companies into” the country, he said, citing the transfer some production, middle- and back-office functions by firms including Rolls Royce Holdings Plc, Credit Suisse Group AG and Citigroup Inc.
Still, amid a spat with the EU that may trigger unprecedented sanctions, Morawiecki rues losing a friend inside the bloc.
“We are happy with Brexit and very unhappy with Brexit at the same time,” he said.
--With assistance from Mark Barton
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