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Panel 417: Reviving EU Citizenship’s Potential: Equality for People on the Move and 'Social Europe'
Panel 612: Reviving EU Citizenship’s Potential: Equality for People on the Move and “Social Europe"
We submit that equal treatment of people on the move is a precondition for the EU’s liberalisation project to nurture instead of destroying integration of Europe’s societies. Instead of bemoaning the disintegrating potential of the EU internal market and its law, we highlight that the EU’s economic integration model is unique in that it grants full free movement rights under the conditions of equal treatment to EU citizens, and not only to business.
In 2019, this model has lost acceptance. Most likely, the 2019 elections to the European Parliament return a sizeable proportion,of MEPs rejecting free movement as well as migration to the EU from beyond its shores. This will be based on campaigns stressing the advantages of free trade, while rejecting free movement of persons under the conditions of equal treatment at their destination.
These successes will be partly rooted in fears of EU citizens who consider that they pay the cost of the EU’s openness to people movement, because the EU does not succeed with any social integration model. Thus, it is a good time to consider the law and politics of people movements in a post-integration
EU. We need to wake up to the reality that researchers and politicians who used to support an integrative model which promoted people movement on the basis of equal treatment in the host state will campaign for limiting that very equal treatment, and demand that different tiers of people on the move are created, with a hierarchy of entitlement to integration.
Presentations of the Symposium
Is Equality going to be enough? The East-West Divide in the Aftermath of the Revision of the Posted Workers Directive
While this paper acknowledges the importance of the equality principle as an essential characteristic of the right of free movement of persons within the EU, it questions its potential to rescue EU’s social legitimacy partly shattered by different (mis)interpretations of the effects of that very right. The paper traces the synergy between two significant initiatives of Juncker’s Commission, namely the Revision of the Posted Workers Directive and the European Pillar of Social Rights, and looks into their potential to restore the integrative potential of the internal market. Although posting constitutes a labour mobility scheme under the framework of free movement of services, not persons, it has become symbolic of the unequal treatment between workers from the West and the East, and thus of the overall labour mobility debate in Europe. Therefore the outcome of the Revision becomes relevant beyond posting itself, as it might contain a broader statement for the understanding of social justice and fairness in the EU.
The final compromise of the Revision sends a strong message by introducing an equivalent of equal treatment for posted workers and thus rejecting the market rationality behind free movement as a primary distributive mechanism between the East and the West. However, I argue that the root causes for the East-West division should be searched for behind the veil of the “social dumping” narrative, in the deep economic and structural inequalities between the European centre and the periphery. While the Revision symbolically saves the national welfare state as part of Europe’s version of the embedded liberal compromise, the question of tackling structural and economic inequalities between the Member States from the centre and the periphery remains open.
That is where the Social Pillar with its ambition to achieve social cohesion in the Eurozone and beyond in the EU would ideally come into play. But the final version of the Pillar, modestly offering a number of non-legally binding social rights, does not look promising. After critically examining the Pillar’s rights approach, the paper argues that it lacks potential to bridge the inequality gap between Europe’s Western core and the peripheries. Moreover, it is worth asking if its rights framework could have a constraining effect on further considerations of more progressive redistributive policies.
LINK TO DRAFT PAPER: http://bit.ly/2HEPlr9
Fear and Loathing: The Loud and the Silent Politics of People Movement in a Central and Eastern Europe
The recent economic and ‘refugee crisis' significantly increased the salience of the notion of ‘sovereignty under threat’ within the EU Member States. Sovereignty, is a concept whose boundaries are highly contextual, defined by historical experiences and shaped by domestic and international constraints. The notion of ‘imperiled sovereignty’ contributes to the backlash against EU integration, and in particular against the freedom of movement. It is increasingly exploited by populist leaders to appeal to the people who feel they pay the price for the EU integration, but do not share in its benefits. A closer look at the populist leaders of the four Visegrad countries (the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia) and their loud and silent politics of people movement show an interesting paradox. These leaders use the issue of sovereignty selectively – on one hand, they increasingly rely on the remittance of the CEE citizens living abroad, and on EU- and non-EU immigration to meet shortages of low-income labour; on the other hand, they are opposed to any form of refugee accommodation. In this paper, we explore the demand and the supply side of the politics of people movement in the Visegrad countries. On the demand side, we look at the relationship between Euroscepticism and economic fears of CEE citizens. On the supply side, we study the issue of free movement both as a political strategy – the loud politics - of the CEE populist leaders; and as a silent policy - accommodation to the demands for low-income labour.
Worker Mobility in Europe – Challenges by the 'Lexit' Perspective
This paper offers a socio-legal discourse analysis of the role of worker mobility in recent challenges of the European Union integration project from the left, and sketches an alternative addressing populist challenges of the European integration project more widely.
While “Lexit” has been coined as a denominator of the “Labour Leave Campaign”, left-wing challenges of EU promoted worker mobility are not unique to the UK. This paper uses the term for positions from the progressive spectrum promoting either leaving the EU or reversing its integrative potential by weakening the binding nature of EU law and policy at (sub) national levels. It argues that the underlying arguments are informed by the fear of people movement contributing to or causing downward spiralling of social standards. These fears are not unique to a left-wing perspective, but may well constitute a common basis for left- and right-wing populist challenges of transnational people movement and socio-economic integration beyond borders. Accordingly, addressing the fears underlying the Lexit perspective on worker mobility in Europe is worthwhile from a wider spectre of pro-EUropean strategies.
A socio-legal discourse analysis is meant to capture law-centred discourses by analysing positions to EU (legal) policy documents and related academic and popular statements, aiming to capture how the legal content translates into perception by a non-specialist audience. We analyse discourses in the UK, Germany and Italy, relating to free movement of workers, access of free movers to social benefits and posting of workers in the UK, Germany and Italy, using the positions on people movements before and after “Brexit”, with related (demands for) reforms of EU Directive 2004/38 on citizens’ rights and of Regulation 883/2004 on social security coordination, as well as the debates on the EU reform of the posted workers directive as examples.
The paper goes on to distil whether EU reforms aiming at minimum standards of social integration within Member States may contribute to making free movement of workers under conditions of equal treatment acceptable once again to people fearing the loss of social status through this prime example of EU socio-economic integration.
LINK TO DRAFT PAPER: http://bit.ly/2HCSBDE
Re-claiming Mobility and Equal Treatment: Countering the Erosion of Social Citizenship for EU Free Movers and Precarious Workers
University of Leeds
This paper focuses on the restrictions of EU nationals’ entitlements to social benefits in the UK and the impact on migrant employment relations. It questions the extent to which, counter to preoccupations about social dumping effects of labour mobility, the end of free movement with equal treatment guarantees rather entrenches precarity in the labour market. Since the aftermath of the EU enlargement, mobilising the fears of alleged ‘welfare tourism’ a number of EU countries have tightened access to their universal welfare (Carmel et al., 2011). While free movement constitued one key target of the Leave campaign during the Brexit referendum, EU citizens in the UK have encountered increasing barriers to claiming non-contributory benefits, through increasing conditionality and harsher tests. This is in contradiction with the EU’s legal principles of equality in the realm of social advantage for EU free movers (Schiek et al. 2015). The paper thus unveils the functioning of a new hierarchy of entitlements in the context of the wider “welfare –to- work” reform in the UK centred around the notion of citizen-worker. Secondly it explores alternative strategies against the claim that migration is the cause of Europe’s social and political disintegration: to what extent evidence of “mobility bargaining” by migrants in the labour market (Strauss et al. 2016) can be leveraged to counter the re-nationalisation of social citizenship? Drawing from research in migration and employment relations that has showed correlations between regulated free movement and stronger bargaining power (Afonso 2016), we will argue that free movement may reinforces rather than weaken industrial relations and worker leverage.