TRANSWEL: Mobile Welfare in a Transnational Europe: An Analysis of Portability Regimes of Social Security Rights

The aim of the TRANSWEL project was to disentangle the nexus between intra-EU migration/mobility and welfare in the enlarged European Union. Focusing on transnational labour movements within four pairs of countries (Hungary–Austria, Bulgaria–Germany, Estonia–Sweden and Poland–United Kingdom), it provided a comparative analysis of the formal organization and individuals’ use of European social coordination, which involves mobile Europeans’ access to social security rights and the portability of these rights from the sending to the receiving countries (and back) in the areas of unemployment, family benefits, health insurance and pensions.


The projects’ main outcome is that the institutional requirements of formal employment and long-term residence are the main selectivity criteria of European social security governance that generate the unequal welfare opportunities among mobile EU citizens. These welfare inequalities are framed by powerful discourses of welfare belonging with regard to largely non-desired Eastern European movers from the peripheries of the EU, only the self-sufficient of whom are regarded in a positive light. Most important, mobile EU citizens experience free movement as a vicious cycle of losses of welfare opportunities that result from individual decisions not to claim rights because of the barriers experienced and from perceptions of not being treated the same way as immobile welfare claimants.

Project links

Research Team

Prof. A.A. Amelina
Brandenburg University of Technology

Prof. E.C. Carmel
University of Bath

Prof. A.R. Runfors
Södertörn University

Prof. E.S. Scheibelhofer
University of Vienna