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Mobility of EU Citizens

Numbers and Destinations

Previous studies indicate that only a small share of the European population is mobile (Bonin et al. 2008; Pascouau 2013). Favell and Recchi (2009), for example, show that less than one in fifty Europeans lives abroad, and around 4 % have some experience of living and working abroad. Nevertheless, the scale of intra-EU mobility clearly increased between 2000 and 2011 (Fig. 3.2). Data from Eurostat (2011), for example, show that nearly 2 million EU citizens moved within the EU in 2008. In absolute numbers, Polish migration made up the greatest share of intra-EU flows in the first decade of the twenty-first century (Fig. 3.2). Migration between Poland

Fig. 3.2 Top-ten intra-European migration flows, 2000–2011 (absolute numbers)

Fig. 3.2 (continued)

and Germany was most prevalent, and consists of movements from as well as to Poland. The prevalence of Polish-German migration might be explained by the fact that such migration has been regulated since 1990, when the German and Polish governments signed a bilateral agreement allowing Polish citizens to engage in legal seasonal employment for 3 months in specific sectors of the German economy (Dietz and Kaczmarczyk 2008). This led to a sharp increase in the inflow of Polish seasonal workers in Germany, from approximately 78,600 in 1992 to 280,000 in 2002 (ibid.). From 2004 to 2007, after Poland's EU accession, we observe a similar increase in population movements from Poland to the UK. This can be attributed to the fact that—unlike other EU member states—Ireland, Sweden, and the UK did not restrict migration from the new member states. Of these three destinations, Ireland and the UK were the most popular, in part due to favourable labour market conditions (Castles et al. 2014). In more recent years, however, many Polish migrants have left the UK, indicating increasing return migration, perhaps related to the economic crisis, as the Polish economy has kept growing (Castles et al. 2014). Apart from the migration flows from and towards Poland, similar inflows and outwards movements from Romania were observed between 2000 and 2011. Whereas between 2000 and 2003 some 39,000 Romanians migrated to Italy and Spain, these numbers increased to about 110,000 in the subsequent years. Furthermore, Romanian migration to Italy remained relatively stable, in sharp contrast with the migration flow towards Spain, which dropped sharply between 2008 and 2011. This can be attributed to the more difficult labour market conditions in Spain, because of the economic crisis, which has redirected the movement of Romanian migrants towards other EU countries (OECD 2013).

Besides migration between Eastern Europe and several other EU countries, migration flows have been considerable between the UK, France, and Spain. These movements likely include retirement migration from Northern to Southern Europe, but also point to increased labour mobility between these countries, especially considering the flows towards the UK, as will be further discussed later.

Finally, in recent years, the global economic crisis seems to have impacted patterns of intra-EU migration. Data from the OECD (2013) show, for example, an increase in emigration from countries heavily affected by the crisis (Table 3.5). Cases in point are Greece and Spain where unemployment rose to unprecedented levels—27.3 % in Greece and 26.1 % in Spain in 2013, with youth unemployment rates of, respectively, 58.3 and 55.5 % that same year (Eurostat 2014b). Countries that eased their way into economic recovery, such as Iceland and Ireland, have already registered declines in the numbers of individuals leaving these countries (OECD 2013). Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, and the UK appear to be popular destination countries, as intra-European migration flows towards these countries almost doubled in the 5 years prior to 2012. The crisis, however, also led to migration to

Table 3.5 Migration from specific European countries to main European and other OECD destination countries, 2007–2011

Index

Number (thousands)

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2011

Country of origin

Greece

100

106

102

143

236

39

Iceland

100

111

163

165

135

4

Ireland

100

104

174

210

181

21

Italy

100

116

111

132

142

85

Portugal

100

120

98

103

125

55

Spain

100

114

123

173

224

72

Country of destination

Germany

100

105

116

133

188

78

United Kingdom

100

120

113

174

195

88

Switzerland

100

116

96

102

121

33

Belgium

100

142

146

169

193

15

Netherlands

100

138

144

157

184

12

All other OECD countries

100

109

116

124

129

50

Total

100

115

114

140

165

275

Source: OECD (2013, 23)

Fig. 3.3 Share of intra-European migrants in total emigration and immigration for selected European countries, 2008–2011 (%)

non-European countries, such as Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, Turkey, the USA, and in the case of Portugal, to former colonies in Africa (Castles et al. 2014).

It is important to keep in mind that most of the previous analyses are based on absolute numbers, whereby EU member states with larger populations are logically more visible. We now consider the relative importance of migration flows as a share of countries' total immigration and emigration figures. Figure 3.3 shows the relative share of EU migration for selected EU countries.

Intra-EU migration forms a substantial share of movements to and from the majority of the countries in Fig. 3.3. Based on these numbers, we can discern several groups. The first group consists of countries where intra-EU immigration and emigration comprises the largest share of migration movements. It includes Austria, Germany, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Slovakia, and Denmark. The attraction of these countries is explained by their well-developed economies. Particularly significant within this group are Polish and Lithuanian migrants moving on to other European destinations. The second group is made up of countries where more than half of emigration moves are directed towards other European countries, and immigration is mostly non-European. This group is comprised of Finland, Italy, Latvia, and Romania. Their geographical location at the borders of Europe might explain this pattern, as these countries receive immigrants from neighbouring (non-European) countries and function as transit countries.

Furthermore, these countries might be less attractive to migrants from other EU countries because of their limited economic opportunities and relatively low wages (except for Finland). The third group consists of countries where both emigration and immigration from and to non-European countries is still of considerable importance. This group includes Spain, Sweden, and the UK. For Sweden, the most popular destinations for migrants are (besides the Nordic neighbours) English-speaking countries such as the UK and the USA (Mannheimer 2012). In terms of the arriving population, humanitarian refuge and family reunification are the main channels of immigration in Sweden, which explains the large share of non-European migrants (Fredlund-Blomst 2014). Spain's and the UK's migration balances might reflect continuing migration from former colonies and historical links with various world regions which include, for example, language similarities. The UK attracts a considerable number of migrants from ex-colonies such as India and Pakistan (Office for National Statistics 2011). Furthermore, the principal non-European destinations for UK migrants are English-speaking countries such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the USA (Murray et al. 2012). For Spain, non-European migrants mainly originate from Morocco and Latin American countries, and Spanish migrants emigrate to Latin American countries such as Argentina and Venezuela (INE 2014).

 
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