Project Description

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 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.

Case countries: The comparative research of the project focuses on three EU member states that, measured by their population currently rank among the main countries of origin of EU migration in terms of population: Lithuania (11%), Portugal (10%) and Romania (16%) (Eurostat 2019).

Funded by: DFG (Individual Research Grant)

Funding Period: 01.10.2021-30.09.2024