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Transnational Migration, Citizenship and the Circulation of Rights and Responsibilities

Final Report Summary - TRANSMIC (Transnational Migration, Citizenship and the Circulation of Rights and Responsibilities)

The TRANSMIC research training programme aimed to examine the concept of transnational migration from a theoretical and empirical multi-disciplinary perspective and to provide policy insights into promoting “rights-based mobility”. It analysed how the mobility of people meshes with the (im)mobility of rights and obligations and explored the links between migration, citizenship, development and transnational migration patterns by pooling expertise beyond the national and European level. Along with these scientific objectives, TRANSMIC also contributed to the establishment of an interdisciplinary consortium on transnational migration, which delivered a comprehensive academic training programme for PhD and post-doc researchers coupled with professional skills elements such as secondments and workshops.

Several of the research projects contributed to the understanding of the policy and legal aspects of transnational migration in the context of the multi-faceted external migration policy of the EU, as well as its repercussions on migrants’ rights. The PhD project conducted by Zvezda Vankova (ESR1) concluded that the EU’s approach to circular migration has been driven by selectivity based on the skills and the qualifications of migrants and it only allows the most desirable migrants - the highly-qualified - with the possibility to engage in rights-based circular migration. It also demonstrated that the circular migration approaches at the national level differ between countries due to various factors and this leads to different outcomes for the rights of migrant workers and very often to discrepancies between the predetermined models by policymakers and the migrants’ realities.

As one of the main instruments of the EU external migration policy, Mobility Partnerships were in the focus of the PhD research of Fanny Tittel-Mosser (ESR6). The study tackled the issues around these soft law instruments with legal and policy relevance for third countries. It concluded that in the case of Morocco and Cape Verde, Mobility Partnerships have a “differentiated relevance” which means that in some cases legal and policy changes can be imposed by the EU and in other cases the EU can support these changes according to the interests of a third country. The fact that Mobility Partnerships have also consequences for migrants living in Morocco and Cape Verde are unintended consequences which have unexpected positive benefits.

Another important aspect, which was examined within the TRANSMIC framework, was the current approach to the external dimension of EU social security coordination. The PhD project of Pauline Melin (ESR2) demonstrated that it is currently fragmented. Therefore, the research project recommended a draft of a model agreement that can be adapted to different third countries (i.e. India, USA and Turkey) whereby both the Member States and the EU will follow the same approach to social security coordination with third countries.

Finally, the post-doc research of Leonhard den Hertog (ER11) focused on the role of funding in the EU external migration and asylum policy. The study found that there is an incoherent EU funding landscape, with various actors, instruments and priorities. It also concluded that the recent changes to the EU funding landscape in this field, as a consequence of the so-called “migration crisis”, produces democratic, legal and financial accountability challenges.

Two PhD research projects explored the links between citizenship and transnational migration. The research conducted by N.C. Luk (ESR10) examined three forms of external quasi-citizenship schemes in China, India and Suriname, including the extent to which they approximate full or dual citizenship in terms of rights and duties of individuals. It demonstrates that, through the lens of citizenship rights, the Indian and Surinamese external quasi-citizenship schemes are very similar vis-à-vis their targeted diaspora. The findings of this research are relevant to assist in better informing emigrants of these countries, and for states in engaging with this novel status in their diaspora policies.

Based on an analysis of nationality legislation in 198 States, the PhD project of Luuk van der Baaren (ESR8) revealed that a large majority of states accepts dual nationality for emigrant populations, although this acceptance is often partial or conditional. It concluded that (partial) dual nationality acceptance is altering the concept of nationality by creating new ‘modes of belonging’. Lastly, the research provided a number of policy recommendations based on the premise that states should move away from combating dual nationality and develop standards and principles for the sharing of citizens instead.

Another two PhD projects focused on formal and informal social security provisions between migrants in Europe and their families back home. The research conducted by Ester Serra Mingot (ESR3) focusing on Sudanese migrants demonstrates that in navigating the current geographically-fixed formal social protection systems migrants sometimes enter into symbiotic relationships with different welfare-state institutions, which in turn rely on the support of these migrants to provide services for people who would otherwise escape their purview. It suggests that it is not the lack of formal social protection in the first host country to trigger onward movements, but the lack of possibilities for people to arrange their extended families’ social protection when such families are located in multiple nation states.

Polina Palash’s PhD research (ESR7) centered on Ecuadorian migrants, often dual Spanish nationals, outlined the Agreement on Social Security between Spain and Ecuador as an important instrument to ensure ageing migrants affected by the economic crisis. However, widespread working informality in Ecuador and Spain limits the totalisation of contributions to access pension, and in the origin country pension is low, which does not encourage returns but rather onward migration to other countries. Migrants ensure their needs in Europe through financial resources from Ecuador, which contrasts the assumptions that they are an economic burden for receiving welfare states. The PhD project also illustrates that the inadequacy and sedentary logics of welfare provisions in origin and destination exposes vulnerable families to further social risks.

Hanwei Li’s PhD research (ESR5) focuses on international student migration and integration in non-Anglophone EU countries. As many EU countries are increasingly aiming to retain international student graduates as potential supply of highly skilled migrants, this research shows that those policies can be difficult to achieve due to inconsistencies of migration policies towards third country nationals. In particular, the immigration policies that restrict the employment of third country nationals’ employment and mobility within the EU represent key factors inhibiting the stay of international students in host countries. Therefore, the current study argues that promotion of long-term immigration policies, which ease the requirements for obtaining a permanent residence and family reunification, together with institutional reforms, which mitigate labour market restrictions for third country nationals are essential for retaining international student graduates.

Clotilde Mahé’s PhD project (ESR4) focuses on another aspect related to transnational migration, namely occupational choice. It concludes that while migration might develop entrepreneurial abilities, self-employment tends to be more of a temporary choice when market-supporting institutions are lacking. Turning to those who stay behind, the return of migrant household members appears to alter the time allocation of non-migrating members, spouses, even once migration is complete. Last, publicly provided healthcare is shown to condition migration, directly or indirectly, through effects on the labour force.

By using the case of the Eastern European migrant workers in Italy, Olga Cojocaru’s PhD project (ESR12) adds another perspective to the understanding of transnational migration. It examines how migrants with precarious jobs experience time welfare (qualities of time) and prolonged temporariness. It demonstrates that perceiving oneself as temporary on a permanent basis affects key migration decisions. The research concludes that migrants are inconsistent with their intention to return because they discount the losses in the long run, as in their understanding the short term benefits (more financial gains) outweigh the long-term losses (pension schemes, time spent away from family, alienation).

Finally, two post-doc projects focused on examining political remittances in the context of transnational migration from quantitative and qualitative perspectives. Ali Chaudhary's quantitative research (ER9B) helped uncover new theoretical and empirical insights concerning the homeland-oriented political actions of migrants residing in Europe. Policy implications from this research suggest that European governments can inadvertently increase democratization in migrant-sending countries by facilitating access and migrants' participation within local, national, and EU-level electoral politics across Europe. The second component of Ali Chaudhary's project looked at how migrants' homeland-oriented political actions can be constrained by both receiving and origin societies. Ali’s theoretical development concerning the constraints impeding political remittances are presented in a theoretical paper that urges scholars and policy makers to recognize and address social, economic, and political obstacles that are constraining migrants’ efforts to foster social and political change in their homelands.

The qualitative research of Marieke van Houte (ER9A) explored the dual and multidimensional relationship between migration and political change. The theoretical contribution analyses migration, integration and transnational (political) engagement as processes from above and below. The empirical contribution concludes that migration and mobility have over time both facilitated and stagnated change in Tunisia. The policy-oriented contribution discusses the tension between enabling policies to foster migration and development and constraining policies of migration management. The public exploration contained 10+ participatory theatrical performances with wider audiences to explore drivers of migration and change.