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Intra-EU mobility and its impacts for social and economic systems


The research to address this challenge should in particular focus on the following key dimensions. Proposals can comprehensively address one dimension or combine them. They may include additional aspects which are relevant to addressing the specific challenge.

1) Social and economic impact of intra-EU mobility

Research should investigate patterns and networks of intra-EU mobility, i.e. of all EU citizens who are currently residing in another Member State than the Member State of citizenship as well as mobile third country nationals (TCNs), both legal and 'irregular' and their family members, possibly including involuntary migration. It should map the paths of their geographical mobility and devise a set of innovative comparative cross-country indicators of mobility. Research also needs to investigate the causes of mobility and to address the legal, economic, social and cultural factors that influence patterns and routes of mobility of male and female EU citizens and TCNs (current and emerging push and pull factors, location-specific utility).

In terms of geographical distribution, the overwhelming majority of mobile EU citizens and mobile TCNs reside in the EU-15 countries. Research should investigate the scale and impact of this group on the social and economic systems of these receiving countries. Special consideration should be given to collecting data on employment and welfare benefits. Such data could include, but should not be restricted to, the type of jobs taken on by mobile EU citizens and TCNs, whether they substitute or complement local labour, the effect on local wages and tax collection, and the use of social benefits. The responsiveness of migration flows to changes in the minimum wage should also be considered. Issues of language, including language barriers and multilingualism may also be explored. Research should consider the law relating to intra-EU migration, welfare, and the tension between social and economic rights under EU law. Projects should ascertain whether and to what extent intra-EU migration constitutes a burden on receiving state's welfare systems and job markets. The wider socio-economic spill over effect of negative trends in the job markets should also be considered.

Research may also consider the socio-economic impact on (predominantly) sending Eastern European countries including reverse migration. In this regard, issues to be explored may include remittances, loss of human capital, impact of migration on family life (separations, impact on children and the elderly) and local communities, gender, equality, demographic trends as well as the impact on the tax base and labour market. Research could compare migration flows and impacts following the so-called Eastern enlargement round with migration effects after previous accession rounds. Research could also consider whether and to what extent intra-EU mobility relates to inequalities, in particular whether and to what extent it helps to reverse or exasperates existing inequalities and/or generates new ones.

2) Perceptions on and politicisation of intra-EU mobility and representation in the media

Research should survey and examine discourses and perceptions on intra-EU mobility. The role of the media, including social media, and of political parties and other groups in opinion formation must be analysed. A representative range of Member States ought to be studied comparatively. Research could also compare, and if opportune contrast, these discourses with those following previous accession rounds and assess the connections with the development of xenophobia in Europe. It should also consider whether and to what extent discourses distinguish between intra-EU mobility and migration into the EU. Awareness and knowledge of the historical and current realities of migration, including and in particular with regard to the actual costs on the welfare systems, should be tested, and if necessary contrasted, with claims regarding threats to local employment or 'welfare tourism commonly made. Projects will also consider the role of educational systems in the EU in this regard. Research should analyse the underlying processes and dynamics of the politicisation of intra-EU mobility. It should analyse whether and how this politicisation relates to increasing inequalities in Europe. Finally, it should be explored whether and how perceptions of and attitudes towards migration are related to support for the welfare state.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU in the order of EUR 2.5 million for each dimension would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. This does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Free movement is not only a fundamental principle of the European single market, but also a fundamental right of European citizens entitling them to move freely across borders and reside anywhere in the EU. With the 2004 and 2007 enlargements and, more recently, with the lifting in 2014 of the last transitional restrictions on free movement of Eastern Europeans to move to the EU-15, the issue of intra-EU mobility, and particularly the mobility of EU citizens, has become heavily politicised. Negative portrayals of internal migrants, whether EU citizens or third country nationals (TCNs), in terms of economic and social costs are prevalent in the media and have also been widely used in national and European electoral campaigns.

Research will considerably enhance the knowledge base on the socio-economic impact of intra-EU mobility in general and on national welfare systems in particular. Projects will inform on the necessity of any additional regulation on intra-EU mobility and develop practical solutions. Research should make recommendations on how sending countries can harness the talents and resources of their citizens abroad. Research will reveal whether and to what extent there is synchronicity or divergence between the socio-economic effects of intra-EU migration and its perceptions and politicisation.