The European Union Centre of Excellence, the Jean Monnet Chair, and the Glendon College Office of the Principal are pleased to announce...

Free Movement and Discrimination

The European Union in Comparative Perspective

Conference at Glendon College, York University
November 28, 2011

9:00 Welcome from Principal Kenneth McRoberts

9:10 - 10:30 Session 1

Willem Maas, "Free Movement and Discrimination" (abstract)

Anne Staver, "Free Movement for Workers or Citizens? Reverse Discrimination in European Family Reunification Policies" (abstract)

Discussants: Harris Mylonas, Dagmar Soennecken

Michael Johns, "Under-Appreciated, Under-Employed and Potentially Unwelcome: The Long-Term Future of Polish Migrants in Ireland and Britain" (abstract)

Discussants: Micheline van Riemsdijk, Matthew Light

10:30 - 10:45 refreshment break

10:45 - 12:15 Session 2

Micheline van Riemsdijk, "Obstacles to Free Movement in the European Union: Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications" (abstract)

Discussants: Anne Staver, Martin Geiger

Jacqueline Gehring, "Free Movement for Some: The Treatment of the Roma after the European Union's Eastern Expansion" (abstract)

Discussants: Uri Marantz, Christina Clark-Kazak

Matthew Longo, "Right of Way?: Defining the Scope of Freedom of Movement within Democratic Societies" (abstract)

Discussants: Megan Bradley, Joseph Carens

12:30 - 1:30 Lunch in Senior Common Room.

1:45 - 3:15 Session 3

Uri Marantz, "Democratic Aspirations and Security Concerns: The Politics of Movement and Discrimination in Israel" (abstract)

Discussants: Matthew Longo, Stuart Schoenfeld

Harris Mylonas, "When are Repatriates Free to Move? Policies toward Repatriate Groups in Post-Cold War Greece" (abstract)

Discussants: Michael Johns, Sakis Gekas

Megan Bradley, "Liberal Democracies' Divergent Interpretations of the Right of Return" (abstract)

Discussants: Jacqueline Gehring, Michael Barutciski

3:15 - 3:30 refreshment break

3:30-4:15 wrap-up session for authors.

Because these papers are being prepared for publication, they are password-protected. If you would like to read papers, please contact the authors directly.

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Paper abstracts

Free Movement and Discrimination

Willem Maas

Democratic states tend to guarantee free movement within their territory to all citizens. Similarly, the European Union guarantees the right to live and the right to work anywhere within EU territory to EU citizens and members of their families. Such rights reflect the project of equality and undifferentiated individual rights for all who have the status of citizen. But they are not uncontested. Within the EU, several member states have or propose to reintroduce border controls and restrict access for EU citizens who claim social assistance. Some, most notably France and Italy, have emphasized their expulsions of Roma, which challenge human rights norms against discrimination. Within democratic states, particularly federal ones and others where decentralized jurisdictions are responsible for social welfare provision, it sometimes appears that some citizens are more equal than others. Principles such as benefit portability, prohibition of residence requirements for access to programs or rights, and mutual recognition of qualifications and credentials facilitate the free flow of people within states and reflect the attempt to eliminate internal borders.

Free Movement for Workers or Citizens? Reverse Discrimination in European Family Reunification Policies

Anne Staver

The unprecedented level of free movement within the European Union contrasts starkly with restrictions on movement into the EU. At the intersection of these modes of movement we find the increasingly complex family reunification policies of European states. Taken collectively, these policies represent an intriguing site to examine the politics of free movement and differential membership status in the EU because of a rather unusual "reverse discrimination," where citizens may be accorded lesser status and rights than intra-EU migrants even while living in the same place. For reasons that will be explained in more detail in the paper, reverse discrimination is common in family reunification policies in many European countries because EU free movement rules are much more liberal than most national rules with regard to family reunification. Through a string of cases at the European Court of Justice, EU rules have been extended to apply in many situations unanticipated by member states. Thus, intra-EU migrants can bring family members (regardless of their national origin) to live with them in situations where "sedentary" citizens living in the same country cannot. At the base of this reverse discrimination lie two contradictory logics; nation-states mainly seek to keep immigrants out, while the ECJ has interpreted the encouragement of free movement as central to the EU project.

Under-Appreciated, Under-Employed and Potentially Unwelcome: The Long-Term Future of Polish Migrants in Ireland and Britain

Michael Johns

The European Union's 2004 expansion was accompanied by worries in several western member states about potential large-scale immigration by workers from new member states. In France, for example, the 'Polish plumber' featured as a symbol of cheap labour in the 2005 constitutional referendum. The accession treaty allowed existing member states to restrict the entry of workers from new member states for up to seven years; only the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Sweden allowed immediate unrestricted entry of workers from new member states. Many workers, particularly Poles, did move, and a cursory examination of this migration could lead one to judge it a success. Ireland and Britain benefited from an influx of workers during a boom economic period and the Poles earned wages beyond what they would have earned at home. A closer examination illustrates the difficulties and discrimination faced by the Polish community in Ireland and Britain. This paper documents how the skills of Polish migrants have been under-valued and how it was assumed that when the economy soured, they would leave. As many have stayed, they face potential further discrimination. The paper relies on both primary interviews and secondary sources to examine the treatment and future of Europe's largest recent internal migration.

Obstacles to Free Movement in the European Union: Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications

Micheline van Riemsdijk

Member states of the European Union are in need of skilled workers, especially in the information technology industry, financing, and healthcare. The shortage of healthcare professionals is likely to increase in the near future when European states experience a growth in elderly populations that need professional care. In order to fill these shortages, European countries try to attract foreign-born workers from within Europe and abroad. However, migrant nurses and other healthcare professionals often experience difficulties with the transfer of their professional qualifications despite a high need for their services. This paper investigates the mutual recognition of professional qualifications in the EU through a case study of the valuation of qualifications of Polish nurses. The findings of this paper are based on three months of ethnographic fieldwork research in Warsaw, Poland, including interviews with representatives for the Polish Department of Health, leaders of two Polish nursing unions, and Polish nurses. In 2004, the European Commission deemed the educational qualifications of most Polish nurses below EU standards. They allowed these nurses to work only as auxiliary nurses in EU member states, or they could work as registered nurses after completing a bridging course. The paper investigates the stipulations in Poland's Accession Treaty that govern the valuation of nursing qualifications, and a formal appeal by the Polish Chamber of Nurses and Midwives to this decision. The findings are placed in a larger discussion about the Europeanization of healthcare delivery and migration, the harmonization of curricula in higher education, and the consequences of these developments for the free movement of skilled workers within the EU.

Free Movement for Some: The Treatment of the Roma after the European Union's Eastern Expansion

Jacqueline Gehring

Securing the free movement of peoples has been one of the most difficult challenges for the European Union. The value of this right, and the limits that should be placed on it, were central concerns when the EU expanded east in 2004 and again in 2007. In particular, the existing member states put a particular focus on the Roma and their poor living conditions in the prospective member states. In the hopes of preventing the migration of Roma into the 'old' member states, the EU invested in programs supporting the Roma in prospective member states. The value of these programs for the Roma has been widely debated, but it is clear they did not prevent the migration of Roma into older member states. The migration of Roma to 'old' member states has been met with hostility and deportation, sometimes voluntary, other times forced. The states that have engaged in deportation have faced minimal sanction from the European Union. This paper explores the European Union's faltering enforcement of the right to free movement. Does the right to free movement only exist for a subset of EU citizens? What are the implications of a racial/ethnic test for free movement?

Right of Way?: A Critical Inquiry into Freedom of Movement within Democratic Societies

Matthew Longo

What is the relationship between freedom of movement and democracy? Can freedom of movement be considered a core democratic right? Within this context, what obstacles/restrictions can democratic societies legitimately impose upon the freedom of movement? And under what circumstances can these impositions obtain? This paper attempts to answer these questions via a theoretical discussion of rights within democratic societies, as well as an overview of current obstacles to freedom of movement. This latter discussion will focus especially on debates over ID cards and identity verification as an institutional fetter to intra-state travel, looking both within democratic societies as well as borderline cases - such as democracies facing threat or emerging from war. These are exceptional cases that nonetheless elucidate the norm. The piece concludes with an evaluation of the current state of restrictions on freedom of movement in democratic societies and a critical discussion of whether and to what degree these restrictions can be considered permissible.

Democratic Aspirations and Security Concerns: The Politics of Movement and Discrimination in Israel

Uri Marantz

Among democratic states, Israel stands out like a sore thumb. The democratic imperative for a state to grant its citizens freedom of movement encounters several obstacles in the unique case of Israel. The state of Israel must necessarily discriminate ­ and heavily ­ between the various ethnic, religious, and national groups under its jurisdiction (not to mention the class, gender and ideological divides in its society). Hence, the discrimination that results from these difficulties is multifaceted and not as simple as the superficial 'Jew vs. Arab' or 'Jew vs. Muslim' dichotomy, but instead must incorporate a whole host of factors not commonly considered in academic discourse. To accomplish this conceptual feat, it is necessary to expose the barriers to free movement in Israel for its citizens and trace how the contemporary structures of discriminatory practices and policies gradually evolved in response to significant historical events and changing political circumstances. Only by explaining and understanding how these factors combine and contribute to a unique form of discrimination in Israel is it possible to relate to the broader discussion of democratic politics and free movement within democracies.

When are Repatriates Free to Move? Policies toward Repatriate Groups in Post-Cold War Greece

Harris Mylonas

What is the state's logic in restricting the freedom of movement of certain groups but not others? What accounts for variation in freedom of movement across similar groups within a state? This paper considers various answers to these questions ranging from ethnic discrimination to foreign policy concerns. The empirical section of the paper focuses on the Greek state policies toward repatriates from the former Soviet Union during the early 1990s.

Liberal Democracies' Divergent Interpretations of the Right of Return

Megan Bradley

The right to leave and return is one of the fundamental human rights norms underpinning free movement. Although this principle is enshrined in documents such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, debate on the concept has typically been limited to the right of dissidents to leave non-democratic states, and the right of particular displaced groups, such as the Palestinian refugees, to return to their homelands. There is a need for more in-depth critical examination of how this right has been interpreted and implemented, particularly in liberal democratic states, and the implications of these interpretations for the politics of free movement and discrimination. This paper will explore trends that have emerged over the past twenty years in liberal democracies' interpretations of the right of return. It will argue that major inconsistencies have emerged between the expansive definition of this right that liberal democracies have imposed on post-conflict states in order to legitimize the speedy repatriation of refugee populations, and the restrictions liberal democracies place on their own citizens' exercise of this right, in the name of upholding security and economic prosperity. The patterns of discrimination evident in many liberal democracies' divergent interpretations of the right of return will be examined using the cases of the return of refugees to Bosnia and Herzegovina; the struggle of Americans displaced by Hurricane Katrina to return to their homes in New Orleans; and the experiences of Abusfian Abdelrazik, a Canadian-Sudanese citizen prevented from exercising his right to return to Canada on the basis of unsubstantiated security concerns.

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Author biographies

Megan Bradley (PhD Oxford) is Assistant Professor of conflict studies at Saint Paul University in Ottawa and is also a member of the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies at the University of Ottawa. Her expertise is in forced migration, human rights and post-conflict justice. Her research and teaching are informed by her experiences working with a range of governmental and non-governmental organizations concerned with human rights, development and humanitarian affairs, including the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada (DFAIT), the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), the Brookings Institution Project on Internal Displacement, and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). She is currently undertaking a SSHRC-supported research project on the right of return. Her first monograph, Refugee repatriation: Justice, responsibility and redress, is forthcoming from Cambridge University Press.

Jacqueline Gehring (PhD University of California, Berkeley) is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Allegheny College. Her research currently focuses on the development and implementation of rights for the Roma in Europe, particularly at the EU level. She has published articles on European racial anti-discrimination policy, the emergence of ethnic politics in France, and the relationship between soccer, ethnic diversity and German identity. She is currently revising her book manuscript "European Rights, National Realities," which explores the variation of legal rights across the European Union. At Allegheny College, she teaches courses on European Politics, as well as comparative courses examining legal rights, racism, and sport.

Michael Johns (PhD Maryland) is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Laurentian University - Barrie Campus. Prior to Laurentian he was the Researcher-in-Residence for the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities in The Hague. He is currently a member of the Minorities at Risk Project Advisory Board and the Executive of the Centre for Research on Canadian-Russian Relations. His research focuses on the role of the European Union in the protection of minorities with particular interest in the unique place of intra-EU migration of East Europeans since 2004 in questions of social cohesion.

Matthew Longo is PhD candidate (expected 2012) in Political Science at Yale University, studying borders in their material and experienced dimensions. Rather than mere lines in the sand - i.e. legal-topographical instantiations of state sovereignty - in his dissertation he reveals borders to be complex, dynamic institutions that have evolved greatly in the past decades of globalization ('de-bordering') and subsequent securitization ('re-bordering'). In these liminal spaces sovereignty is at once reified and challenged, identities are asserted and transgressed, and democratic rights are frequently undefined if even undefinable. He is the recipient of the NSF GRFP as well as generous funding from the Institute of Social and Policy Studies and the MacMillan Center at Yale. His work has been published in Survival and Democratization; in addition, he has published op-eds in the Los Angeles Times, International Herald Tribune, and New York Times At War Blog.

Willem Maas (PhD Yale) is Jean Monnet Chair and Associate Professor of Political Science and Public and International Affairs at Glendon College, York University, and founding director (currently co-director, on leave) of the EU Centre of Excellence. His book Creating European Citizens argues that regional integration involves much more than economic calculations and that free movement of persons is central to the political project of transcending borders and building a new community of people. Other recent and forthcoming publications address challenges to free movement in Europe, the politics of migration, the political history of immigrant integration in the Netherlands, and the comparative politics of citizenship and nationality.

Uri Marantz is currently a research intern at the Hudson Institute in New York. He holds a Combined Honours Bachelor of Arts in International Relations and Political Science from Glendon College, York University, a Master of Arts in Political Science from the University of Windsor, and a Master of Public Policy from the University of Michigan. He has contributed monthly essays to Beyond ONE and served as the managing editor and chief contributor to The ISSUE, both online magazines specializing in social justice, international affairs, and philosophical issues.

Harris Mylonas (PhD Yale) is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the George Washington University. His research focuses on the processes of nation- and state-building, as well as immigrant and refugee incorporation policies. His forthcoming book The Politics of Nation-Building: The Making of Co-Nationals, Refugees, and Minorities (Cambridge University Press) identifies the conditions in which the ruling political elites of a state target minorities with assimilationist policies instead of granting them minority rights or excluding them from the state. Mylonas has published on electoral competition in Sub-Saharan Africa elections in Comparative Political Studies (with Nasos Roussias), a chapter entitled "Assimilation and its Alternatives: Caveats in the Study of Nation-Building Policies" in Rethinking Violence: State and Non-State Actors in Conflict (BCSIA International Security Series, MIT Press), and has a forthcoming article on third-party nation-building in occupied territories in Ethnopolitics (with Keith Darden). He has also published opinion pieces in Los Angeles Times, Foreign Policy,, Guardian, Newsweek Japan, Turkish Daily News, The Age and Kathimerini. Professor Mylonas was an Academy Scholar at the Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies in 2008-2009 and 2011-2012.

Micheline van Riemsdijk (PhD Colorado Boulder) is Assistant Professor in Human Geography at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. She conducts research on the governance of international skilled migration and the lived experiences of skilled migrants. She has conducted fieldwork research in Oslo, Brussels, and Bangalore on the recruitment of skilled workers in the global knowledge economy. She published an article on the European blue card in Population, Space and Place, and her research on international nurse migration is published in Geoforum and Social and Cultural Geography. An article on the valuation of skill is forthcoming in the Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies.

Anne Staver is PhD candidate at the University of Toronto, and since fall of 2011 she is also affiliated with the Institute for Social Research in Oslo as a researcher. She holds a BA in International Studies from Glendon College, York University, and an MSc in Forced Migration from the University of Oxford. She has previously been employed by the Norwegian Organization for Asylum Seekers (NOAS) and the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI). Her doctoral thesis focuses on new restrictions in family reunification policy in Norway, Denmark and France.

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Discussant biographies

Michael Barutciski, Associate Professor and Graduate Programme Director at the Glendon School of Public and International Affairs, York University, and Editor-in-Chief of Refuge (Canada's Journal on Forced Migration), has carried out research in conflict zones and refugee camps in various parts of Asia, Africa, and the Balkans.

Joseph Carens, Professor of Political Science at the University of Toronto, works on contemporary political theory with a focus on immigration, citizenship, and democracy. He has written many books, most recently Immigrants and the Right to Stay.

Christina Clark-Kazak, Assistant Professor in Refugee and Humanitarian Affairs, teaches International Studies and Public and International Affairs at Glendon College, York University. Her research interests include conflict-induced migration and political participation of children and young people, particularly in the Great Lakes region of Central Africa.

Martin Geiger holds a PhD in geography and is Research Fellow at IMIS, University of Osnabrück, Germany. His academic work covers different aspects of migration management, the role of international organizations, and the migration policies of the European Union.

Sakis Gekas, Assistant Professor of Modern Greek and Mediterranean History at York University, has written on the economic and social history of colonialism in the Ionian Islands and the Eastern Mediterranean and is completing a history of the Ionian State under British rule (1815-1864).

Matthew Light, Assistant Professor of Criminology at the University of Toronto, works on issues of migration control, individual rights, and policing, including extra-constitutional residence restrictions in post-Soviet Russia.

Stuart Schoenfeld, Chair of Sociology, Glendon College, York University, works in the areas of environmental sociology, environmental movements in the Eastern Mediterranean, diaspora studies, and sociology of religion.

Dagmar Soennecken, Assistant Professor, School of Public Policy & Administration, York University, works in the area of comparative politics and public policy and is particularly interested in migration and social policy.

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Conference registration / directions

All are welcome. The format of the conference is that everyone reads the papers in advance. The first discussant spends about five minutes summarizing the paper's main arguments and posing one or two questions. The second discussant spends the next five or so minutes offering suggestions and also posing questions. The next 15-20 minutes are for general discussion, in which the author also has a chance to respond. We stop promptly after 30 minutes and move on to the next paper.

There may be a small registration fee (to cover the cost of refreshments and lunch). To register, please contact Steven Parker at


York University Glendon campus, 2275 Bayview Ave, Toronto:

Room 219, Glendon Hall, building 16 on the map here:


Paper abstracts

Author biographies

Discussant biographies

Conference registration & directions