First TRANSWEL Working Paper: “EU Social ‘Rights’ Remain Something of a Distant Dream”

Project “Mobile Welfare in a Transnational Europe: An Analysis of Portability Regimes of Social Security Rights” (TRANSWEL) around Project Leader Prof. Anna Amelina analises the social rights of EU citizens from the new EU member states who move to live and/or work in the old member states. In particular, it focuses on the portability, i.e. transfer and recognition, of migrants’ social rights from one member state to another.

During the first project phase, TRANSWEL produced four Policy Briefs analysing the implementation of the EU’s portability regulations for the four country pairs Bulgaria–Germany, Hungary–Austria, Estonia–Sweden and Poland–United Kingdom. The analysis indicated that state institutions continue to consider mobile ways of life to be problematic. This (implicit) view contributes to the institutional barriers to accessing and porting social security rights of mobile EU citizens between the new and the old EU member states.

In the first TRANSWEL Working Paper, researchers Emma Carmel, Bożena Sojka and Kinga Papież present the main results from the first project phase, drawing an interim conclusion of social security portability governance for mobile Europeans. The paper addresses two main questions:

  • How are migrants’ social security rights structured transnationally in regulations?
  • How do welfare systems’ conditionalities organize, condition, and set limits to the acquisition and portability of social security rights?

They find that instead of meeting their goals of  supporting social rights for mobile workers and promoting flexible labour markets, EU regulations are used by member states to secure exclusionary logics of access and portability of social security. In addition, from a migrant perspective, interlocking and often contradictory regulations cause barriers which must then be negotiated by both decision-makers and mobile citizens and lead to uncertainty.