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Governmental preferences on liberalising economic migration policies at the EU level: Germany’s domestic politics, foreign policy, and labour market

Mayer, Matthias M. (2011) Governmental preferences on liberalising economic migration policies at the EU level: Germany’s domestic politics, foreign policy, and labour market. PhD thesis, The London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Abstract

The academic debate about European cooperation on immigration has focused on big treaty negotiations, presented an undifferentiated picture of the subfields of immigration, and has only recently begun to make use of the abundant literature on national immigration policies. As a macrostructure, this study uses a bureaucratic politics framework to understand the preference formation of national governments on liberalising economic migration policies. This allows unpacking the process of preference formation and linking it to a number of causal factors, which, by influencing the cost and benefits distribution of the relevant actors – intra-ministerial actors, employer associations, trade unions, and other sub-state actors – shape the position of the government. The influence of the causal factors is underpinned by different theories derived from the literatures on Europeanisation, immigration policy-making, and foreign policy. Germany is used as a longitudinal case study with four cases within it, as it has undergone a U-turn in a way no other relevant Member State has, from a keen supporter of EU involvement to being highly sceptical with regard to economic migration policies at the EU level. The empirical data is based on 43 open-ended interviews, archival research and newspaper analysis. The bureaucratic politics framework supplanted with the theoretical strands of domestic politics and foreign policy concerns provides a number of themes that can explain why and under what conditions a Member State supports liberalising economic migration policies at the EU level from 1957 until the Treaty of Lisbon. The thesis argues that if the European policy measure applies to a particular group of sending countries and the domestic salience of immigration is low, sending countries can lobby Member State governments to support EU-level liberalisation of immigration policies. The misfit between the existing national regulations for economic migration and European-level policies cannot be significant as otherwise the economic and political adaptation costs for actors involved are too high. A heated national debate on immigration is negatively related to governmental support for such measures as the political costs of support skyrocket. Conversely, if the decision-making process happens bureaucratically, this helps to attain governmental support as the political costs of doing so are kept minimal.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2011 Matthias M. Mayer
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
Sets: Departments > European Institute
Supervisor: Sasse, Gwendolyn and Thielemann, Eiko
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/370

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