Free movement of workers and transitional arrangements: lessons from the 2004 and 2007 enlargements


Two recent EU enlargement rounds (2004 and 2007) appeared to be a turning point in recent migratory history of Europe. In fact after 2004 sizable flows of labour (and other types of immigrants) from the New Member States (NMS) to the ‘old’ countries of the European Community became a new and indeed overwhelming tendency. Out of 3.8 million immigrants recorded in 2008 more than one million originated from the former European communist countries. The NMS of the EU-27 accounted for around 60% of intra-EU population movements (20% of all inflows).
Against this background, the main objective of the project is to answer the question to what extent the selective application of transitional periods has influenced the scale and structural features of migratory flows between the NMS and the EU. In particular, the study aims at: (1) assessing the rationale behind the decisions to open or restrict the labour market access to workers from the NMS; (2) identifying the main drivers of scale and distribution of post-enlargement mobility flows and assessing the role of the legal regime (e.g. transitional arrangements); (3) analyzing the impact of changes in the legal regime on the economic, labour market and social impacts of post-enlargement mobility flows on destination countries; (4) identifying the potential side effects or circumventions of restrictions (e.g. increase in irregular migration or bogus self-employment); and (5) looking at the potentially self-regulating nature of labour mobility across EU Member States (with a particular emphasis on the economic crisis and its outcomes).


2014 - 2015

Source of funding

European Commission (Directorate-General Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Tender no. VT/2014/095)