Mobility and Social Protection in the European Union: Welfare States Under Pressure?

Panel Code
RC03.09
Type
Closed Panel
Language
English
Description

In a context of increasing mobility, high levels of unemployment and rapidly growing poverty rates, the access of migrants to welfare has become a key area of concern across the EU. The recent financial crisis has had serious implications on the number of migrants in need of social protection. According to Eurostat data, half of non-EU citizens aged 20-64 years old residing in EU28 in 2017 were at risk of poverty or social exclusion, compared to 28% among mobile EU citizens and 22% for non-mobile Europeans, respectively. Severe material deprivation was twice as high for third-country nationals when compared to EU citizens and being in work does not necessarily provide a safety net against poverty. At the same time, several EU countries have undertaken reforms aiming to limit migrants’ access to social benefits, whereas the argument of migrants as “abusers” of domestic welfare systems has often gained salience in political discourses. Yet, the EU social security coordination system limits the margin of manoeuvre of national governments in freely regulating mobile EU citizens’ access to welfare, thus offering them an extra layer of protection when compared to third-country nationals. This panel examines the design and outcomes of policies through which the EU and its Member States aim to regulate migrants’ access to welfare. In doing so, we pay attention not only to the type of social protection policies and programs targeting mobile individuals, but also how these regulations affect migrants’ life cycles.