Managing labour migration in Europe: ideas knowledge and policy change (Working Paper #184)
Alex Balch, University of Sheffield
Abstract: Since the late 1990s many European countries have embraced the concept of managing labour migration for their national economic benefit. The last 10 years have seen dramatic changes in patterns and flows of migration into and within Europe, where overall numbers have risen markedly. The UK and Spain – one ‘old’ and one ‘new’ country of migration – are examples of this trend, where new policies have led to a complete overhaul of systems of migration management since 2000. This paper is concerned with why such changes took place and why they occurred when they did. It develops an approach that focuses on the role of ideas and knowledge in the policy process. It is based on research including interviews with key actors in the policy communities of both the UK and Spain. It demonstrates how new ideas about immigration and its effects came to be adopted in the policy process and compares this approach with established accounts of immigration policy that emphasize the role of interests and institutional effects.