E.g., 09/01/2014
E.g., 09/01/2014

The Enlargement of an 'Area of Freedom, Security and Justice': Managing Migration in a European Union of 25 Members

Policy Briefs
May 2004

The Enlargement of an 'Area of Freedom, Security and Justice': Managing Migration in a European Union of 25 Members

As the European Union prepares to include ten new Member States, this policy brief explores two key policy issues at the center of the May 2004 enlargement: the potential for migration from the new Member States to the existing ones; and the need to develop a coherent immigration, asylum, and border control policy for the Union. It examines these debates within the wider context of growing anti-immigrant sentiment and the prevailing climate of distrust between existing and new Member States.

In general, EU citizenship confers the right to move to, reside, and work freely in any country within the European Union. However, due to concerns that the economic weakness of all but two acceding states will provoke large-scale migration to the EU-15, governments have restricted freedom of employment for citizens from eight of the ten new states through transition agreements. Counter to this belief, the report concludes that actual emigration from new Member States will be negligible, with or without transition agreements, based on the outcomes of previous enlargements involving countries experiencing similar per-capita income gaps at the time. On the other hand, such agreements impose two levels of citizenship, likely leading to feelings of exclusion until citizenship rights are equalized for all EU nationals.

Pre-enlargement attempts to agree upon a common EU-wide immigration, border, and asylum policy, and establish a strategy for collective implementation have achieved limited success largely due to EU-15’s reluctance to relinquish sovereign control and individual states’ desire to uphold their own national priorities. These factors also manifest in widespread skepticism over acceding states’ ability to carry their weight in controlling their borders and managing immigration and asylum systems. Despite these challenges, authors are optimistic that enlargement offers unique opportunities to explore integration issues at the EU-level, develop a new and better understanding of refugee protection needs by leveraging the experience of former refugee source countries, and finally establish the mutual trust necessary to put the goal of an area of freedom, security, and justice into practice.