EUKN research paper Lithuanian EU Presidency 2013 - Internal mobility in the EU and its impact on urban regions

EUKN has finalised a research paper investigating the social, economic and territorial effects of cross‐border mobility in the EU. The report, commissioned by the Lithuanian Presidency of the Council of the EU, studies both sending and receiving countries and urban regions to answer three key questions: (1) What are the main, recent trends in cross-border labour mobility in the EU? (2) What are the social, economic and spatial effects of out-migration on countries and regions of origin? What policy implications do these effects have? (3) What are social, economic and spatial effects of in-migration on countries and regions of destination? What policy implications do these effects have? These questions are answered by desk research. To find out more about local impacts of intra-EU mobility and about more recent labour mobility trends, the desk research has been supplemented by the description and analysis of a selection of urban case studies. These case studies are presented in part 2 of the paper.

Section 2 answers the first research question by offering an analysis of the main cross-border mobility movements in the EU.

The main reasons for EU citizens moving within the EU are: employment, family, study and retirement. This paper focuses on labour migration as one of the major motives for intra-EU mobility. Most of the recent publications about intra-EU mobility relate to the most recent enlargements: eight Central and Eastern European countries (EU-8 ) in 2004 and Romania and Bulgaria in 2007 (EU-2). The study looks into two migration corridors: the East-West mobility of EU-8 and EU-2 migrants and the more recent South-North migration from countries hit hardest by the economic crisis.

Section 3 puts the impact of migration into its demographic context.

Intra-EU mobility is one type of migration and its impact on the regions depends on other demographic trends. Today, international migration is the most important force behind European population change. Migration and mobility have a significant impact on demographic and labour force developments in Europe. Migration will be a strong factor increasing regional disparities. Furthermore, regions gaining population (especially the EU15) do so mainly due to immigration by third-country nationals. Intra-European migration will have a greater impact on regions of origin of intra-EU migrants in the CEE countries.

Section 4 describes and analyses the impact of intra-EU mobility on countries and regions of origin, focussing on countries experiencing significant outflows to other Member States.

This section focuses on East-West mobility in the EU, because of the availability of a growing number of relevant studies. Most studies on the impact of emigration deal with the economic effects at the national level. Analysts conclude that mass outflows from the CEE Member States have both economic advantages and disadvantages for these countries,. If the overall economic advantages outweigh the disadvantages, there a serious problems that need to be taken into account: brain drain effects, social unbalances, demographic changes with a considerable territorial impact.

Section 5 describes and analyses the impact of intra-EU mobility on countries and regions of destination.

First, economic and labour market effects are analysed. Country studies generally point to economic advantages for the receiving countries and regions. Research shows that labour mobility from EU-8 and EU-2 countries in general has small yet positive fiscal and labour market effects in and on the EU countries of destination. Yet there are also some negative effects that need to be tackled: malpractices by employment agencies, unfair wage competition by bogus self-employment, housing problems, underutilisation of skills and the development of segmented labour markets.

The concluding section in this study recapitulates the main conclusions and provides policy recommendations for European, national, regional and local policy makers to tackle potentially negative effects and to strengthen the positive effects of labour mobility in the EU. For example, attention to the uneven territorial distribution of benefits and burdens of free movement within the framework of the EU social and territorial cohesion policy, controlling the negative effects of intra-EU mobility and enhancing the positive effects of labour mobility and reducing the negative effects for migrants as well as for countries of origin and of destination.