CEPII, 09/09/2020 - Auteurs: Cristina Mitaritonna, Lionel Ragot
The covid-19 crisis and the ensuing closure of borders has profoundly affected the mobility of migrant seasonal workers. As some European agricultural sectors highly depend on these workers, governments in EU countries have urgently adopted different strategies to avoid disruptions due to their absence. Alternatives seeking to cope without this experienced foreign seasonal labour force, pose two difficulties: their effectiveness is not guaranteed and/or they are accompanied by a significant increase in production costs and therefore in prices. As this large-scale temporary shock may lead to longer-term structural changes in the agricultural sectors concerned, we draw on the UK’s post-Brexit vote experience to discuss alternatives to foreign migrant seasonal workers. The covid-19 pandemic may well accelerate the adoption of robots for picking fruits and vegetables in the EU fields.