A new TRANSWEL working paper by researchers Florian Zabransky and PL Anna Amelina addresses the current debate around equality in access to social rights among mobile EU citizens. Project TRANSWEL analyses the social rights of EU citizens from the new EU member states who move to live and/or work in the old member states. Empirically, the project traces the migration of regularly and irregularly employed migrants and their family members between four pairs of countries: Hungary–Austria, Bulgaria–Germany, Poland–United Kingdom and Estonia–Sweden. The project has already completed a number of Policy Briefs to present preliminary findings on these case studies.
With the new Working Paper, the authors want to add to the debate around social security rights for intra-EU movers by providing empirical insights into mobile EU citizens’ practices of accessing social security rights as forms of ‘living’ European social citizenship. Building on a regression analysis of the empirical outcomes of a large-scale comparative survey conducted in 2015/16 in Germany, Austria, Sweden and the United Kingdom, it analyses unequal welfare opportunities for mobile EU citizens who move – permanently or temporarily – from the new to the old EU member states as profiles of welfare inclusion/exclusion.
The paper identifies profiles of mobile Europeans’ welfare inclusion/exclusion as sets of social categories (‘type of migration/mobility’, ‘employment status’, ‘gender’, ‘education’, ‘being married’, ‘having children’) that draw boundaries between movers who apply for social security benefits in the areas of unemployment benefits, family benefits and healthcare and movers who do or cannot apply. ‘Type of migration/mobility’ and ‘status of employment’ proved to be the most significant social categories: The findings reveal that permanent movers and movers with no experience of irregular employment were more likely to apply for access to all three areas of social security under study.
The analysis shows linkages between mobile EU citizens’ trajectories of welfare inclusion/exclusion and the institutional selectivity of EU social security coordination. It demonstrates that despite the official EU rhetoric of equal treatment, the inherent selectivity of EU social security governance is inevitably linked to the production of unequal welfare opportunities among mobile EU citizens.