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The last important aspect of Commission discourse that contains significant evidence for its contribution towards a de-bordering in the EU for the free movement of people is the Commission‟s position on the free movement of workers from the countries that joined the Union in 2004 and 2007. The provisions of the Accession Treaties are that (unless an “old” member state decides to wave it) there will be a seven-year transition period after accession before workers of the “new” member states are allowed to seek employment in countries that have been members of the Union before them. During the 2004 Enlargement three “old” member states (the UK, Ireland and Sweden) did not impose restrictions to free movement of workers from the former Communist acceding countries and in May 2006 several other member states lifted the restrictions. 72 The Commission has been consistently arguing in favour of free movement within the entire Union and supporting the lifting of the restrictions for East European workers. There are three main ways in which this position is articulated.
70 Ibid. (emphasis added) 71 Ibid, Summary 72 For an overview of the regime for free movement of workers from the “new” member states of the EU see European Commission, The Transitional Arrangements for the Free Movement of Workers from the New Member States Following Enlargement of the European Union on 1 May 2004, available at http://ec.europa.eu/employment_social/free_movement/docs/transition_en.pdf, accessed on 30.10.2008;
European Commission, Free Movement of Workers to and from the new Member States – How will it Work in Practice?, available at http://ec.europa.eu/employment_social/free_movement/docs/pr_en.pdf, accessed on 30.10.2008; European Commission, Free Movement of Workers to and from Bulgaria and Romania – How will it Work in Practice?, available at http://ec.europa.eu/employment_social/free_movement/docs/accession_2007_en.pdf, accessed on 30.10.2008;
European Commission, High Level Group on Free Movement of Workers, MEMO/05/2005, 16.09.2005 145 Firstly, the Commission has reiterated its commitment to free movement of labour throughout the EU. According to the Commissioner responsible for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, Vladimir Špidla: “Free movement of workers is one of the four freedoms of the EU and should be enjoyed by all. I urge all Member States to seriously examine whether transitional periods cannot be dropped.”73 Secondly, the Commission has pointed out on different occasions that the free movement of East European workers has had an overall positive impact on the member states that have lifted the restrictions for the movement of workers from these countries. For example Commission President Barroso maintained that: “A recent analysis from the Commission clearly shows that workers‟ mobility from the EU Member States in Central and Eastern Europe to the EU15 has had 74 mostly positive effects.” More specifically: “Workers from EU10 helped to relieve labour market shortages and contributed to better economic performance in Europe.
Countries that have not applied restrictions after May 2004 … have experienced high
economic growth, a drop of unemployment and a rise of employment.” Furthermore:
“There was no evidence of a surge in either numbers of workers or welfare expenditure following enlargement in comparison to the previous two years.” 75 Also there is a line in the discourse that points out that there have not been spectacular flows of migrants to the member states that opened up their labour markets and no serious disturbances to labour markets.76 Thirdly, the Commission has expressed its satisfaction that more “old” member states are dropping the restrictions before the end of the seven-year transition period. For example, Commission President Barroso welcomed: “the recent announcement that Finland, Portugal and Spain will join Ireland, United Kingdom and Sweden in lifting … 73 Vladimir Špidla cited in European Commission, Commissioner Špidla Kicks off Run-in to Free Labour Movement Decisions for Next Three Years, IP/05/1153, 16.09.2005. For the articulation of the same argument see also European Commission, FAQ on the Commission’s Free Movement of Workers Report, MEMO/06/64, 08.02.2006, p. 2 74 Jose Manuel Barroso, More Europe where it Matters!, SPEECH/06/168, 15.03.2006, p. 2 75 Both quotations are from European Commission, Free Movement of Workers since the 2004 Enlargement had a Positive Impact – Commission Report Finds, IP/06/130, 08.02.2006. For similar articulations see also Vladimir Špidla, The European Year of Workers’ Mobility, SPEECH/06/248, 24.04.2006, p. 3; Charlie McCreevy, Review of the Single Market, SPEECH/07/532, 14.07.2007, p. 3 76 Franco Frattini, The Green Paper on an EU Approach to Managing Economic Migration, SPEECH/05/364, 20.06.2005, p. 2; European Commission, 2006 – European Year of Workers’ Mobility, the Importance of the Mobility of Workers to the Implementation of the Lisbon Strategy, MEMO/05/229, 30.06.2005, p. 6 146 restrictions on the free movement of workers. I look forward to more countries joining the club!”77 Commissioner Špidla has also made similar statements. 78 Thus, overall there is a strong trend in Commission discourse that is promoting decreased significance of internal borders in the EU. This contributes to the establishment of an area where an increasing number of Union nationals and TCNs can enjoy the rights of free movement between the member states of the Union. The analysis of Commission articulations shows that they promote mainly the abolition of functional borders through the implementation of legal and administrative measures relevant for EU citizens and/ or TCNs. Despite its lesser visibility, there is also a trend in Commission discourse towards the abolition of identity divisions through the promotion of a common identity on the territory of the Union. These trends are further reinforced by the support, evident in a number of articulations, for a quicker lifting of the restrictions on free movement of labour from the “new” EU member states. However, a critical examination of Commission documents reveals that there are also configurations of borders, which are less obvious and which lead to the construction and reconstruction of EU borders. I examine them in the next two sections, starting with the construction of the external border of the EU.
4.4. The Trend in Commission Discourse towards the Construction of an External EU Border As I discussed in Chapter Two, a shortcoming of Neo-functionalism is that it does not provide an in-depth account of the Commission configuration of external EU borders.
In order to address this weakness, in this section I analyse how exactly Commission documents articulate them. In distinction to its discourse on border controls, where Commission documents explicitly refer to the external EU border, on the free movement of people there are no such references. Hence, this discourse is more similar to the articulations on social policy and the ENP. The external border in the field of the free movement of people is constructed in Commission discourse both through the erection of 77 Jose Manuel Barroso, More Europe where it Matters!, SPEECH/06/168, 15.03.2006, p. 2 78 European Commission, Meeting Offers Last Chance to Review Restrictions on Free Movement of Workers in EU, IP/06/390, 28.03.2006, p. 1
4.4.1. Main themes of Commission discourse on the Free Movement of People that lead to the construction of the EU’s external borders In the area of the free movement of people, the construction of external EU borders is a result of articulations in one specific field, Immigration. However, as an issue area immigration is also related to border controls. Therefore, for the sake of analytical clarity I specify the immigration issues that are most closely related to free movement of people (and therefore are examined in this chapter rather than the border controls one). I do this by presenting and analysing an important shift in the discourse of the Commission in the last decade.
Since the early 2000s, Commission documents start to increasingly make a distinction between illegal immigration and legal migration. As we saw in the previous chapter, illegal immigration is still articulated as an unwanted phenomenon that needs to be fought against. In distinction to this, legal migration is enunciated as forming the focal point of the “proactive” immigration policy, which the Commission began to advocate during the same period. The aim is to develop the tools that will allow controlling immigration according to the needs of the European labour market. 79 To that end, a new theme in the Commission documents is that they start to emphasise the increased possibility 80 for legal migration into the EU. This trend towards articulating a distinction between 79 Joanna Apap, „Shaping Europe‟s Migration Policy – New Regimes for the Employment of Third Country Nationals: A Comparison of Strategies in Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands and the UK‟, European Journal of Migration and Law, 3: 3 (2002), pp. 309-328, p. 315 80 See for example European Commission, Green Paper on an EU Approach to Managing Economic Migration, COM (2004) 811 final, 11.01.2005; Franco Frattini, Legal Migration and the Follow-up to the Green Paper and on the Fight against Illegal Immigration, SPEECH/05/666, 07.11.2005; Franco Frattini, The 148 illegal and legal immigration is well illustrated by the following assertions by senior Commission officials. According to Commissioner Frattini the EU: “must … aim at efficient and effective management of legal migration flows and, at the same time, fight illegal immigration in all its dimensions.”81 In the same vein President Prodi declared: “We must send a clear message to our citizens. We will be tough on illegal immigration and the trafficking of human beings but at the same time we must acknowledge that legal migration is good for Europe. It is a source of vitality and energy which an aging Europe needs” 82 and Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner argues: “But of course we need legal migration … Getting the balance right between clamping down on illegal immigration and welcoming those immigrants that we need for our economic and social well-being is essential.”83 Importantly, these articulations also clearly indicate that the Commission is at pains to emphasise that it understands the need to get the balance right and that the necessary measures to secure this are undertaken. This is because as a part of the highly controversial issue of immigration, “The European Commission understands how politically sensitive it is to suggest that immigration is the answer to labour shortages …”84 Nevertheless, this new distinction between illegal and legal migration is important because it constructs legal immigrants as TCNs who will be entitled (under certain conditions) to work on the territory of the EU. Thus, legal migration is inextricably linked to issues of free movement of people, which is why I examine it in this particular chapter.
The reason for this new line in Commission discourse on migration is the argument that it will be indispensable to overcome a threat that has been continuously articulated.85 This is the threat of an aging population in the Union and its economic and social consequences. This line comes through in a number of Commission documents. Its starting Future of EU Migration and Integration Policy, SPEECH/07/98, 23.02.2007; European Commission, Towards a Common Immigration Policy, COM (2007) 780 final, 5.12.2007 81 Franco Frattini, The Green Paper on an EU Approach to Managing Economic Migration, SPEECH/05/364, 20.06.2005, p. 3 82 Romano Prodi, Speaking Points Concerning the Seville European Council, SPEECH/02/290, 18.06.2002, p.
2 83 Benita Ferrero-Waldner, Migration, External Relations and the European Neighbourhood Policy, SPEECH/06/30, 24.01.2006, p. 2 84 Claude Moraes, „The Politics of European Union Migration Policy‟, Political Quarterly, 74: 1 (2003), pp.
116 – 131, p. 126 85 As the analysis in the next chapter that deals with social policy shows, the threat of aging population in the EU is a theme that emerges in other Commission articulations as well.
149 point is the statistics on demographics in the EU, which the Commission discourse reproduces. Projections indicate that in the period 2010-2030 there will be a decline in employment in the order of 20 million workers in the EU-25.86 This enables the Commission to summarise: “Our populations are getting smaller and growing older.”87 Already in many European countries the net increase in population is entirely due to immigration. Current projections indicate that by 2050 the population of Austria would shrink by a quarter if there were no immigration.88 Furthermore, the age structure of the population will change with the share of people aged 60 and over increasing from 22 percent in 2001 to 27 percent in 2020 on average for the EU.89 These demographic trends are expected to have significant repercussions on the economic performance of the Union because they can trigger shortages of manpower, thus impacting on the productivity of the block. At the same time the aging of the population will lead to higher spending for social security, which can have dire consequences.
According to one of its Communications on Supplementary Pensions: “Resolving the retirement provision problem related to an aging population is one of the major challenges confronting all Member States of the European Union.” 90 This is because: “There are today four workers to every pensioner. In 2040 the ratio will be two to one. Without reform, the level of expenditure of state pension schemes could in some Member States reach 15-20% of GDP (1997: approximately 10%). The scale of the possible fiscal implications must be underscored: in some Member States, unfunded pension liabilities could rise to 20% of 86 Franco Frattini, Legal Migration and the Follow-up to the Green Paper and on the Fight against Illegal Immigration, SPEECH/05/666, 07.11.2005, p. 2. See also Franco Frattini, The Green Paper on an EU Approach to Managing Economic Migration, SPEECH/05/364, 20.06.2005, p. 2 87 Benita Ferrero-Waldner, Migration, External Relations and the European Neighbourhood Policy, SPEECH/06/30, 24.01.2006, p. 2 88 Ibid.