Understanding the political conflicts around free movement in the European Union: A conceptual framework for an institutional analysis
May 22, 2018
EU Member States have engaged in highly divisive debates about whether and how to reform the current rules for the ‘free movement’ of workers in the European Union. Whilst some countries have called for more restricted access for EU workers to welfare benefits, others have not. What explains EU Member States’ different positions? While most existing explanations have focused on the role of populist political parties and the media, this working paper of work package 7 provides a theoretical framework for an institutional analysis of this question.
The authors discuss how cross-country differences in the regulation of national labour markets and national welfare state institutions help explain divergent national policy positions and policy responses to free movement. A core feature of the authors’ theoretical framework is that national labour markets and welfare state institutions can affect the development of national policy positions on free movement directly and/or indirectly via inter-relationships with normative attitudes as well as the scale, composition and effects of mobility of EU workers. The authors use their framework to develop a series of expectations about the potential links between national institutions and national policy positions on the current rules for free movement.