Does the Crisis Make People Move?

EU Internal Migration and Economic Disparities in Europe

This policy brief looks at the internal migration in the European Union (EU). Special emphasis is placed on the development of internal European mobility and migration movements after both the EU expansions in 2004 and 2007 in light of the global economic and European sovereign debt crises. The individual articles give priority to the mobility of EU citizens that take advantage of the right to freedom of movement within EU borders. Emphasis is placed on the observation of the revived tendency of South-North migration within Europe. Countries of origin and destination of these movements are put in the form of short country profiles that relate to each other. The goal of this dossier is to highlight the different facets of the current internal migration movement in the EU and to offer a point of reference to more thoroughly deal with this topic.


Statistical Data on Migration

Data on immigration and emigration flows, as well as the stock of immigrants can hardly be compared internationally. Existing definitions and concepts of what an immigrant or emigrant is, and who counts as immigrant stock and who does not, vary from country to country. Each country also differs in regards to their methodology, i.e. how these phenomena are measured – if they are statistically captured at all. Moreover there are serious differences with regard to the quality of the collected data. All these aspects also apply for EU member states and must be taken into account in the consideration of a country comparison.

Mann mit Handy an einem Fenster zwischen Satellitenschirmen in Bukarest

Vera Hanewinkel

EU Internal Migration before and during the Economic and Financial Crisis – An Overview

The principle of freedom of movement for employees belongs to the four basic freedoms of the European Union (EU). According to this, every citizen of an EU member state has the right to live and work in another member state. European Union citizenship , implemented in 1992 by the Treaty of Maastricht, ensures each citizen additional rights as well. For example citizens of the EU must be treated the same as nationals in the filling of job vacancies (nationals take no precedence over other EU-state citizens). Furthermore, they are allowed to participate in municipal elections in the host country and therefore have the right to participate politically.

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Deutsche Jugendliche tragen bei den Feierlichkeiten zur EU-Erweiterung am Dreilaenderpunkt in Zittau am Freitag 30. April 2004 eine EU-Fahne auf einer Ponton Bruecke ueber die Neisse. Die Neisse markiert bei Zittau die Grenze mit Tschechien und Polen.

Lisa Breford

Short Overview: East-West Migration after the EU Enlargement

The EU enlargement in 2004 and 2007 has had a significant impact on migration flows from the Central and Eastern European member states.

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Lisa Breford


With regard to migration movements within the European Union, Ireland poses an especially interesting example as it only began to experience a period of prolonged immigration from 1996 onwards, “making it the last EU Member State to become a country of net immigration” in 1996 (Ruhs, updated by Quinn 2009).

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Die Brick Lane im East End von London, seit vielen Jahrzehnten bevölkert von Migranten aus Bangladesch.

Lisa Breford

United Kingdom

One major indicator of migrant influx to the UK are the National Insurance Numbers (NINo).

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Arbeitslose stehen Schlange vor einem Arbeitsamt in Alcala de Henares, bei Madrid, Spanien, am 04.06.2012.

Feline Engling Cardoso


Between 1996 and 2007 Spain experienced one of the longest phases of economic growth in its most recent history. The characteristic that dominated this phase of prosperity was the strong surge in the number of new jobs. In the third quarter of the year 2007, Spain reached a historical high point with 20.5 million employees (EPA 2012).

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Oktober 2008: Protest von Migranten in Portugal gegen neue Immigrationsgesetze in Europa.

Feline Engling Cardoso


In 2010, as a result of the economic crisis, the size of the foreign population living in Portugal decreased for the first time since the beginning of the 1980s (SEF 2012, p. 15; OECD 2012, p. 262). Immigration dropped by 12% in comparison to the previous year to 30,000 new arrivals (OECD 2012, p. 262). The migration balance totaled a mere 3,815 people.

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Demonstration gegen Rassismus und Faschismus in Athen im November 2012.


Migration to Greece has continued to last, despite the economic crisis, though has decreased in comparison to previous years (Malkoutzis 2011, p. 1). The migration balance is currently negative in total, however, meaning that the number of emigrants exceeds that of immigrants.

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Ein Flüchtling in Rom zeigt den Anhänger seiner Halskette, der den Kontinent Afrika darstellt.


Immigration to Italy has continued despite the financial crisis. The foreign population living legally in Italy has almost doubled since the beginning of the crisis, although the yearly growth rates have decreased overall in comparison to the years before the crisis (Pastore 2010, p. 121).

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Richard Cieplinski aus dem polnischen Konin sticht Spargel auf einem Feld bei Beelitz suedlich von Berlin am Donnerstag, 22. April 2004. Polnische Erntehelfer sind auf den Feldern auch schon in den Jahren vor der EU-Erweiterung eingesetzt worden.

The Current Development of Immigration to Germany

After more people emigrated from Germany in both years 2008 and 2009 than immigrated during the same time period into the country, the emigration of professionals and specialists and Germany’s lack of attractiveness for highly skilled migration was discussed. In the course of the financial and economic crisis, however, this picture has been transformed.

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Länderprofile Migration: Daten - Geschichte - Politik

Ein Länderprofil enthält Informationen über Zuwanderung, Flucht und Asyl sowie Integration in einem bestimmten Land. Diese Informationen bestehen aus: Daten und Statistiken, Geschichtlichen Entwicklungen, Rechtlichen und politischen Maßnahmen, Aktuellen Debatten in den Ländern.

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Zahlen zu Asyl in Deutschland

Wie viele Menschen suchen in Deutschland Asyl? Woher kommen sie? Wie viele Asylanträge sind erfolgreich? Und wie viele Menschen werden abgeschoben? Wir stellen die wichtigsten Zahlen zum Thema Asyl und Flucht monatlich aktualisiert in einfachen Infografiken dar.

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