Globalisation and migration: Challenge and solution for the welfare state

People, goods and services migrate across boarders both inside and outside the European Union. Migration and regional globalisation make up the cornerstone of the internal market. The purpose of the EU is to promote globalisation and migration processes. This tendency is reflected, to a certain degree, on an international level, e.g. in relation to WTO. The international pressure for globalization and migration, however, raises issues for the national (including the Danish) welfare states, where the development can be seen both as a challenge and as a solution to the demographic and economic problems, the welfare state must deal with. The concrete research projects will illuminate the challenges and solutions at an institutional level (project 1) and from the perspective of individual rights (project 2).

Research projects

Project 1: Dissolution of borders and globalisation

Goods, services and people can move freely within the EU. In this connection the EU and WTO can ‘disrupt’ the existing national welfare models by ‘forcing’ EU Member States, including Denmark, to rethink how basic welfare benefits, e.g. pensions, health service and education, can be organised within this framework.

States can be tempted by different models, e.g. the ‘privatisation’ of welfare benefits, reduction in welfare benefits and rights and/or changes in the financing of welfare, e.g. with public/private partnerships. By the same means - and because of a greater mobility of people and services – EU Member States are forced to rethink their taxation policy, as tax regulation can be a hindrance to freedom of movement.

Likewise, the free movement of people across national borders forces states to adjust labour market policy (e.g. to avoid social dumping) to deal with the relocation of jobs and to rethink the famous Danish model of ‘flexicurity’. The states must also implement an improved organisation and coordination of their welfare and social benefit systems. 

On the one hand, EU law can lead to greater changes in the national welfare states and societies and on the other there is only a limited EU harmonization and coordination in this area. This creates a divide which is, in itself, a challenge for both the Member States and for the EU and its legitimacy.

Welma wishes, within the boundaries of this project, to look closer at the changes taking place at the intersection of different legal systems and different legal disciplines, e.g. labour law, social law, education law and tax law.

Academic staff:

Catherine Jaqueson (EU law), Jens Kristiansen (labour law), Jacob Graff Nielsen (tax law), Stine Jørgensen (social and education law) and Mette Hartlev (health law).

Project 2: Migration – A challenge and a solution for the welfare state

Freedom of movement is a basic right of all union citizens and their families regardless of nationality. In certain cases, third country nationals (who are not members of the family of a union citizen) are also protected by EU law. This is not true in Denmark, however, because of the exemption relating to judicial cooperation.

The right to freedom of movement is not limited to the more fortunate. Migration can, therefore, result in problems of integration and the protection of minorities or people on the outskirts of society, such as the Roma and homeless people. These union citizens are stigmatized and excluded from European society and can, in certain circumstances, be deprived of their basic human rights, e.g. the right to health treatment and basic education. The same ‘concerns’ apply to union citizens and third-country nationals who find themselves in the shadow economy.

Migration is, however, not only a problem in the welfare state and welfare society. Migration can also be seen as a solution to the challenges the welfare state faces in finding both high and low skilled labour at a time when the demographic trend is for fewer citizens in the active section of the population to support an increasingly larger non-active section. Migrants can contribute to financing the welfare state as tax payers and at the same time contribute to coping with the demographic challenge that all EU countries face. Finally, it is also important to note that migration patterns can change over time and be affected by the way migration is regulated.

Welma wishes to start up and support projects that investigate how Member States, the EU and international organisations deal with the protection of vulnerable groups of migrants and how they deal with migration as a way of solving demographic and economic challenges.

Academic staff:

Kirsten Ketscher (social law), Stine Jørgensen (social and education law), Catherine Jacqueson (EU law) and Mette Hartlev (health law).