Paradoxes of the EU Freedom of Movement of Persons. The formation of preferences for and against European integration
The DFG-funded project investigates 1) how collective actors in EU countries of origin perceive the effects of the free movement of persons and 2) how the practice of free movement influences attitudes towards EU integration.
KeywordsEuropean integration, EU freedom of movement of persons, EU attitudes; actor preferences
Research on the effects of EU freedom of movement of persons in EU countries of origin is scarce. Effects of emigration such as decreasing unemployment on local labour markets or an increase in remittances are more and more debated in relation to the socio-political outcomes of citizens leaving Eastern and Southern Europe. Since the 2010s, member states and the EU level address the brain-drain from EU countries of origin and the unequal conditions for the competition for labour in the EU’s single market. The research project aims to find out whether and how the free movement of persons and its effects in Southern and Eastern European societies promotes support for EU integration, EU skepticism, or an agenda for reform. Collective actors and their perception of effects are key to answering this question empirically. Thereby, the project tests a key assumption formulated in EU integration theory – the positive relation between free movement of persons and European integration. The expected findings of the research may nuance this assumption and identify possible paradoxes in how the EU principle of freedom of movement impacts EU integration.
Research questions and theoretical-analytical framework
Against this background, the project will address the following research questions:
Research question 1: How do collective actors in EU countries of origin perceive the effects of the free movement of persons?
In a first step, the project will assess the effects of the free movement of persons in a comprehensive way with reference to collective actors in EU countries of origin. Finding out to what extent the prevailing economic rationale for the free movement of persons (and its anticipated consequences) is questioned, supported or alternatives to it are defined will be the outcome of this first research question.
Research question 2: How does the practice of free movement influence attitudes towards EU integration?
In a second step, the project investigates whether and how perceptions of the effects of free movement are expressed in actors' positions and preferences towards dimensions of EU integration. Which attitudes are articulated would not only allow statements on the connection between free movement of persons and EU integration, but would also offer the possibility to reflect on strategies of conflict resolution in the multi-level system of the EU.
Research context and cooperations
Prof. Dr. Christof Roos (EUF Junior Professor for European and Global Politics) is in charge of the academic management, conceptual design and implementation of the project together with Dr. Martin Seeliger (Research Associate at the Chair for Economic and Organisational Sociology at the University of Hamburg). Two doctoral candidates and one post-doctoral researcher will be employed, who will have the opportunity to gain academic qualifications within the project. Furthermore, the project will be linked to the academic environment of the Europa-Universität Flensburg (EUF) and the Interdisciplinary Center for European Studies at the EUF.