The Best of GRReporter
flag_bg flag_gr flag_gb

Migration in the European Union provides various opportunities

16 January 2013 / 20:01:52  GRReporter
2096 reads

Anastasia Balezdrova

Freedom of movement is a fundamental right in a united Europe. The statistics show that between 2-3% of the citizens of the 27 member states of the European Union live in another European country other than their homeland. Their number has increased dramatically since 2004 and 2007, when the countries of Central and East Europe joined the Union.

In addition to the right to move freely within the territory of all member states, the Europeans have also acquired civil rights in the countries where they prefer to live and work. The Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy ELIAMEP presented the results of the research under the European programme called "Moveact project", which is intended to establish whether migrants from different European countries actually support the idea of ​​European unification, or simply take the opportunity to move and work freely. Another indicator is whether they integrate into the social environment in which they live and whether they take part in the public and political life of the country.

Citizens of Great Britain, Germany, Poland and Romania living in France, Greece, Italy and Spain were interviewed within the research.

According to the results, 52% of the migrants in the European Union have a positive opinion of it. The respective rate according to a Eurobarometer research, which was carried out at the same time in 2011, was 31%. Researchers believe that the difference is due to the fact that migrants take advantage of probably the most important rights of the citizens of the European Union.

The results show that the period of a country’s membership in the European Union does not imply that its citizens have a more positive opinion of it. However, the citizens of "old" member states, who choose to live in South Europe, have a much more positive opinion of the European Union than their fellow citizens, who remain in their own countries. In the case of the "newer" member states, the difference in the opinions of migrants and those who remain in their countries is much lower. A large majority of respondents believe that the right of free movement within the European Union is by far the most important of all.

At the same time, researchers report that the citizens of West Europe, who migrate to countries of the South, are much more involved in the political and social life of their new social environment. The documentary "Something for tomorrow", which consists entirely of interviews with "intra-European migrants," makes it clear that British and Germans frequently run and even manage to be elected, especially in local government bodies.

The situation with the citizens of East Europe is just the opposite. They do not run and even do not participate in local elections and in the elections of members of the European Parliament. In many cases, they do not even know that they can vote. Some say they are not aware of this right and the elder people from the former socialist countries state that they are not politically engaged as a result of the one-party authoritarian rule which had lasted for decades in their countries.

The researcher and a candidate Ph.D. in Social Policy at the Panteion University, Daria Lazarescu, further  specifies the obstacles. "Migrants are not a homogeneous group. My research among Romanians in Athens has established three groups: the first one consists of those who came to Greece before the fall of the Ceausescu regime, the second one is a small group of young people who came to study or work as specialists in large companies. The largest is the group of Romanians working as unskilled workers. The majority of men work in construction, while women are mostly housemaids or sex workers. Due to the uncertainty connected with the job, the exhausting hours of work and the frequent lack of social and health insurance, these people become "encapsulated" and actually, they do not have the opportunity to participate in the social and political life of the country," she said. Some do not even identify themselves as Europeans, because they believe that the rights the status of European citizens grants them remain unimplemented. "I do not see any difference in the behaviour of my employers and society before and after the accession of Romania to the European Union," said a woman, aged 36 - a teacher in Romania and a cleaner in Greece.

Another interesting indicator is that the greater the age of the migrants, the more active their involvement in civil society. Knowing the language of the host country is crucial for the integration of migrants. Overall, the research shows that the British and Germans participate more actively in the public and political life of the countries where they choose to live followed by the Poles and lastly the Romanians whereas migrants from the "new" member states more often establish and participate in their own organisations.

The majority of the people in the film state that they have not thought about acquiring the citizenship of the country they live in, because they consider it unnecessary since they have the opportunity to reside there with the passports issued by their home countries.

Tags: SocietyMigrationEuropean UnionPolitical and social involvement
GRReporter’s content is brought to you for free 7 days a week by a team of highly professional journalists, translators, photographers, operators, software developers, designers. If you like and follow our work, consider whether you could support us financially with an amount at your choice.
You can support us only once as well.
blog comments powered by Disqus