Free movement of workers is a fundamental principle of the European Union and it has become an integral part of Member States’ economies and societies.

This principle is supported by an extensive policy framework of work authorisation, access to social and tax advantages and mutual recognition of professional qualifications, among many others. Free movement brings benefits to EU mobile citizens who can earn higher salaries abroad, acquire work experience, and learn a new language. Employers in host countries also benefit from the additional labour supply. However, intra-EU mobility also brings economic, social and political challenges and faces a difficult political environment with the rising support for Eurosceptic parties across Europe. Public concerns range from the potential consequences for the delivery of public services to which EU citizens are entitled (e.g. health, education, social housing), to questions of sovereignty and national control of borders.

Making the most of the movement of workers across Europe is a crucial but complex challenge for policymakers. An important component in this effort is to understand both the impacts of free movement and the processes through which public narratives and public opinion about these impacts are formed. The purpose of REMINDER is to increase the knowledge base on these issues.

The REMINDER approach

REMINDER brings a multidisciplinary approach to understanding free movement in Europe. A consortium of 14 organisations, the project combines expertise from different fields including: development, economics, linguistics, media studies, political science and public policy. The research methods used in the 12 work packages reflect this broad spectrum of backgrounds and include content analysis based on manual and computer-assisted techniques (traditional media, social media, political party and civil society communications), econometric analysis (cross-sectional and longitudinal data), multi-wave panel survey experiments of public opinion, and qualitative analysis of practitioner experiences, social impacts and mobility decisions, among others.

In particular, the project has two components:

  • The nature and impacts of intra-EU mobility: REMINDER will assess the drivers of intra-EU mobility and how EU mobility has affected economies and labour markets in both origin and destination countries. The project will also explore the impact of the movement of EU workers for public services and welfare systems designed in different ways.
  • Political and media narratives about intra-EU mobility: REMINDER will examine how different media portray intra-EU mobility and what factors drive individuals’ views on free movement, including narratives used in party political communications and traditional and social media. The project will also examine why media narratives on intra-EU mobility differ across Member States.

Using the information from these two components the project will then assess policy options to address real and perceived impacts and pressures that free movement may generate.

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