Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

FP6

UWT — Result In Brief

Project ID: 44272
Funded under: FP6-POLICIES

Migration flows and their impact on EU labour

An EU-funded study worked to enhance understanding of migration flows into the EU and their impact on labour markets. Results highlight shortcomings of an increasing trend to enforce tighter migration controls.
Migration flows and their impact on EU labour
The 'Undocumented worker transitions: Compiling evidence concerning the boundaries and processes of change in the status and work of undocumented workers in Europe' (UWT) project set out to explore various elements of migration flows —both legal and illegal. The consortium focused on undocumented and under-documented migrants, with a view to examining their knowledge of host labour markets and how their migration status limits or prevents their ability to work.

The project’s partners, from seven EU Member States, had a number of objectives, with the link between migration flows and work at the core. These included learning more about the impact of migration flows on Europe’s labour markets, mapping and modelling migrant and refugee pathways into and within the EU, and testing theories of social and human capital related to migration.

Research efforts aiming to analyse various aspects of migration took into account how differences in age, gender and ethnicity impacted the work experiences of undocumented migrants. Outcomes provided strong indications that high rates of immigration continue regardless of the tightening regime of immigration controls. These are usually spurred on by poor social, economic or political conditions in the country of origin, coupled with the belief that work can be secured in the destination country.

UWT researchers found that migrants are not deterred by the stricter migration controls being enforced in many countries; they are prepared to use dangerous entry routes or violate their visa terms by taking on work 'under the table'. In the latter case, employers often exploit their undocumented status and offer poor terms and conditions of labour, and sometimes even poor treatment. Thus, increasingly restrictive immigration controls can actually be seen as a breeding ground for a more dangerous and exploitative working environment.

Some UWT recommendations include separating regulations regarding migration and employment, and by extension health and safety, and social and health care, so that all workers can benefit from the protection that labour laws are intended to provide. This will eliminate the perceived economic advantages, on the part of the employer, of using undocumented labour.

Findings highlight the need to turn the focus toward what drives people to leave their country, rather than on the results of illegal migration to and undocumented work in destination countries. The full set of recommendations based on the UWT’s work were presented in a comprehensive report; they include specific measures that could be taken to address numerous injustices as identified by the project’s partners.

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