Skip to main content

Role of European Mobility and its Impacts in Narratives, Debates and EU Reforms

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - REMINDER (Role of European Mobility and its Impacts in Narratives, Debates and EU Reforms)

Período documentado: 2018-01-01 hasta 2019-12-31

REMINDER brought a multidisciplinary approach to understanding the economic, social, institutional and policy factors that have shaped EU free movement and public and policy debates about it. Using methods and expertise from the fields of economics, political science, public policy, and media and communication studies, the project aim to build knowledge around two areas:
• The nature and impacts of intra-EU mobility, including the drivers of mobility, how free movement has affected economies and labour markets in origin and destination countries, and the impact of mobility on public service and welfare provision.
• Political and media narratives about intra-EU mobility, including how migration within the EU has been portrayed in traditional and social media across Europe. Researchers also explored public opinion about freedom of movement, and sought to identify key drivers of opinions and norms across the EU.
The research has shown that EU free movement has mostly positive economic impacts for receiving countries. However, this is not necessarily reflected in media narratives or public perception. The project has produced a number of key policy suggestions that may assist in alleviating this mismatch.
Work was carried out across 12 Work Packages. WP1 dealt with the management of the project and the synthesis and dissemination of results. This included coordination of deliverables, maintenance of the grant agreement and project consortium, and management of project communications. WP2 undertook analysed the patterns and dynamics of EU mobility, drawing together a range of sources and identifying gaps in the existing data. Researchers concluded that, although collection of data on intra-EU migration has improved significantly, this kind of migration nonetheless receives less attention than migration from outside the EU, and key limitations remain. WP3 addressed the determinants of migration. The WP used qualitative and quantitative methods to examine why people move within the EU. Key findings included that, for EU migrants, access to public services or the welfare system is rarely a determinant of a decision to move to a particular country, and that differences in the minimum wage are likewise not major drivers of EU mobility.

WP4, WP5 and WP6 examined impacts for countries of origin and destination. WP4 estimated the fiscal effects of EU mobility, calculating the net fiscal contribution of EU migrants on a country-by-country basis for 29 out of the 31 countries in the European Economic Area. The key finding was that, in the majority of cases, the net fiscal effects are positive, but modest. Researchers placed these findings alongside an analysis of different welfare regimes across the EEA, and found little evidence to support the idea that migrants generate greater fiscal burdens in more generous welfare states. WP5 examined labour market and public service impacts. Researchers analysed the impact of EU immigration on waiting times in the National Health Service in the UK, where researchers found no significant effects on waiting times in accident and emergency departments and elective care. They also looked at how immigration affects the workplace health risks in Spain, the UK, and Italy, and showed that immigration leads to a reallocation of native workers toward jobs with lower injury risk, leading to an overall reduction in reported workplace accidents. WP6 addressed perceptions of the social and economic impacts of EU migration in sending countries, with a focus on cross-border commuting between Austria and Hungary, Romania and Slovakia. Researchers interviewed stakeholders in countries of origin, and overall cross-border commuting was seen as generally beneficial, although some interviewees expressed concerns about skills drain and exploitation of migrant workers.

The second half of REMINDER focused on narratives and debates surrounding EU free movement. WP8 and WP11 were concerned with media narratives. WP8 conducted a large-scale study of the representation of migration in traditional and social media from 2003 to 2017. Researchers built a database of 1.5 million migration-related articles from 37 news outlets in seven countries, and used computer-assisted techniques to measure the salience and sentiment of migration coverage and the ways in which migration is ‘framed’ by media. They found that coverage of intra-EU migration receives less coverage than migration in general, but tends to be treated more positively, and that intra-EU mobility tends to be framed in terms of economic issues. WP11 analysed media practices across the EU, via a series of interviews with 221 journalists and other media professionals across Europe. Researchers found that coverage of migration is likely to be shaped by the standard practices of the media organisations and media industry of a given country.
WP9 of REMINDER was a survey of public opinion about EU mobility across Germany, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Spain, Sweden and the UK. Findings included that, overall, opinion tends to be positive rather than negative, but that sending countries tend to view free movement more favourably than receiving countries. They also found that attitudes toward free movement tend to be stable over time – suggesting they might be difficult to change. WP10 looked at EU citizens’ perceptions of the impacts of migration on national welfare programs. Researchers found that people’s perceptions of these impacts tend to be more negative than the actual estimates produced by WP4. Moreover, views appear to be driven less by beliefs about balance of fiscal costs than by perceptions about the number of migrants who receive benefits. WP7 looked at the impacts of national institutions and social norms on Member States’ policy positions on free movement. The researchers suggest that EU citizens are far more likely to support the provision of welfare to mobile EU workers if national welfare institutions are characterised by a high degree of reciprocity.
These findings have been disseminated to a wide range of audiences. WP12 assessed current frameworks governing intra-EU mobility and produced a series of policy suggestions. These included: considering building EU-level benefits independent from national welfare states; improving the mobility of qualifications; and implementing measures encouraging migrants to return. In addition, WPs 2-7 and 12 have produced policy briefs summarising key findings and suggesting avenues for policy change. The project has also held face-to-face workshops with policy makers. Findings have been disseminated through webinars, and through the development of an online tool www.understandfreemovement.eu. REMINDER has produced 14 peer-reviewed publications, with more forthcoming, and has developed a database of existing data sources on intra-EU migration.
The project addressed how objective patterns and impacts of migration interact with media narratives, political debates, and public opinion. In particular, it has identified key mismatches between the actual impacts of free movement and how these impacts are perceived by the public. It has begun to explain these disparities by examining both media framing of migration, and how institutional differences across Member States are correlated with attitudes toward free movement. It has presented a series of policy papers and held face-to-face meetings to share these insights with policymakers.