Immigration and free movement in an unusual electoral race: what implications for the next political cycle?

20 May 2014
Andreia Ghimis (Former Junior Policy Analyst at the EPC)

Immigration and freedom of movement of EU citizens are among the main issues debated throughout the European Parliament election campaign and have some potential in determining who tomorrow’s EU leaders will be. This Policy Brief looks at how the two policies are debated at national level – in France, Germany and the UK – and at EU level between the ‘top candidates’ for European Commission Presidency – Jean-Claude Juncker (EPP), Ska Keller (Greens), Martin Schulz (PES) and Guy Verhofstadt (ALDE) – who have participated in several public debates. Two different campaigns have been unfolding in front of EU citizens’ eyes. The tense debate that can be identified at national level on these issues, is not transferred to the EU level, where immigration and free movement are less controversial topics. Furthermore, although participating in European elections, national parties present agendas responding exclusively to the economic and social challenges of their Member State, while the candidates for the Commission Presidency bring forward ‘more European’ programmes. Hence, several aspects need to be reflected upon: What will the consequences of this discontinuity be? How will this impact the future European agenda in terms of immigration and free movement? What institutional consequences will there be? Answering these questions is not a simple task, however, this paper aims to identify the parameters that need to be taken into account and the political landscape which will determine the future EU agenda in terms of immigration and free movement.

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