Migration and Welfare in the New Europe: Social protection and the challenges of integration, by Emma Carmel, Alfio Cerami and Theodoros Papadopoulos

Policy Press, 2011, xiv + 261 pp, hbk, 1 847 42644 4, £70

The introductory chapter of this timely edited collection outlines the issues to be discussed throughout: policy combinations, institutions and political structures, and the resulting integration and inclusion of migrants. This is followed by a discussion of the role of emotions, beliefs, preferences and opportunities in policy-making.

The first part of the book contains chapters on the differences between different national migrant integration regimes (always the result of different political economics of labour and welfare); on the European Union’s attempt at a coherent migration policy which links utility, security and integration policies; on the contradiction between the right to emigrate and a destination country’s ability to deny entry (meaning that we need a new European migration morality); and on the causes of migration and of different degrees of labour market integration.

The second part contains studies of migration and social protection policies in different EU countries. In Italy, the relative importance of social protection provided to employees in large companies disadvantages migrants, who tend to work in smaller companies. Migrants are also disadvantaged by their weaker position in relation to welfare rights and their security of residence. Germany practises differential inclusion, with guest workers the least included, second-generation German-born people somewhat more included, and ethnic German repatriates the most included. The social security regime, being based largely on contribution records, disadvantages migrants. In Hungary, EU accession has added new elements to an already complex migration pattern.

The chapter on Finland contains the most detailed study of a social security system and its relationship to migration. In Finland’s case residency is a more important criterion than employment status or length of labour market participation. Because immigrants often don’t achieve rights to residency, their access to the main social security provisions remains employment-based and thus precarious, leaving them reliant on a low-level means-tested safety net.

The chapter on the UK, accurately entitled ‘wilful negligence … the absence of social protection in the UK,’ details UK immigrants’ lack of access to the labour market and to social security benefits, and also a detention regime which includes the incarceration of children. The UK has a long history of both permanent and temporary immigration, which has resulted in complex and differentiated labour market patterns. It’s a pity that a detailed case study doesn’t include a section on immigrants’ social security experiences. What does emerge is a picture of insecure recent immigrants and of exploited migrant workers.

The final section of the book integrates into an understanding of migrant experience of a number of disparate cultural and political factors, and here the UK’s multicultural policies fare rather better than our treatment of illegal immigrants and asylum-seekers awaiting determinations of their status. The first chapter in this section asks that welfare right should be viewed in the context of each cultural situation; the second studies the influence of urban, sub-national policy actors; and the third compares Israel’s positive attempts to integrate (certain groups of) immigrants with Europe’s more patchy experience.

The concluding chapter finds social security regulations to be discriminating, and it puts to us the challenge of creating ‘inclusion, integration and social protection’ (p.253) for migrants across Europe. Advocates of a Citizen’s Income approach to benefits reform will recognise this as a challenge which a Citizen’s Income would meet, but only if a Citizen’s Income is to be paid to every current resident, including new arrivals.