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Intra-EU labour mobility and convergence in the EU: The contradictory nature of the neoclassical aims of the EU

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy

One of the common debates in the European Union revolves around the argument that labour mobility in the EU is too low and well below the general expectations. Since the implementation of neoliberal policies in the 1980s, the EU has increasingly favoured ‘high labour mobility levels within the EU’ and has desperately been trying to increase them ever since. In particular, in the last decade the EU has implemented various programmes in order to boost labour mobility between the member states.
This thesis challenges the current view of EU institutions with their call for higher mobility levels between the EU member states. According to migration theories (the neoclassical theory of migration), individuals move in order to profit from economic advantages, i.e. they move to regions with better prospects of earning higher wages. In other words, under this lens migration takes places between economically different regions. In addition, the EU has been trying to achieve convergence between the regions by implementing cohesion polices, which means the reduction of economic disparities between regions.
Through semi-structured interviews, the motivations of EU-migrants between converged and non-converged regions are explored and compared. The outcomes of this research study bring into question the perspective of the EU institutions by providing evidence that high mobility levels cannot be achieved in converged regions as both ambitions correlate from the same source, namely wage differentials. The EU is thus following paradoxical aims.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Award date2017


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