The findings of a study co-funded by the EU (European Commission, DG Justice, Fundamental Rights & Citizenship Programme, MOVEACT research project) on intra-EU mobility and the European Crisis, with an emphasis on British, German, Polish and Romanian citizens residing in France, Greece, Italy and Spain, were presented on 1 November 2012 at an event organized by Symβiosis in cooperation with the University of Macedonia and ELIAMEP.
A key aspect of the European integration process is the right to free movement, which is regarded, by both citizens and policy-makers, as the core embodiment of the notion of EU citizenship. “EU movers” – mobile EU citizens who have exercised their right to free movement and settled in a member state different to the one in which they were born or raised in – account for between two and three per cent of the total population residing in the EU27 (2012).
The number of EU movers has been increasing since 2004, with rates rising more drastically from 2007 (when the Central Eastern European countries joined the EU). Such recent intra-EU mobility has been primarily economically motivated: EU citizens from new member states seeking better job opportunities and life prospects. However, mobility has been a feature of European integration from early-on, with people moving to pursue work or educational opportunities, for family reasons, or, simply, for a better quality of life , since the introduction of free movement rights.
EU movers are a heterogeneous group: manual workers (mostly but not exclusively from new member states), high-skilled globally-oriented professionals, North-to-South retirees, students, life-style movers, bi-national family members. Whatever their personal trajectories, expectations and plans, these people can be seen as “pioneers’” of European integration “from below’”; they “embody” MOVEACT Policy PaperEU citizenship as living testimonials of a truly transnational Europe.
The MOVEACT Project delves into the experiences and opinions of mobile EU citizens, and raises questions such as:
- Do EU movers endorse the European integration project and support it, or simply free-ride on its mobility and non-discrimination benefits?
- Are they integrated in the localities where they have re-settled? Do they ‘activate’ their citizenship by participating in social and political life?