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Harmonising policies on illegal migration: a “blessing” tool within the EU?

Publication Type:

Conference Paper


5th ECPR General Conference, Potsdam, Germany (2009)


economic migration, EU, migration


The issue of labour migration had been waiting for some time, but is becoming more prominent in the policy debate as employers are gradually more reliant on migrant workers from third countries. The Council Directive providing for sanctions against employers of illegally staying third-country nationals forms an integral part of the EU’s comprehensive and structural approach towards effective migration management. Although the phenomenon of undeclared work is not limited to migrants, the new legislation on sanctions against employers of such persons presupposes that the chance to obtain work in the EU without the required legal status is a key inducement behind illegal immigration. Based on the premise that employer sanctions set the moral tone for immigration policy at the workplace, this paper intends to address one of the main causes of illegal migration: the black labour market.

The paper aims to provide some reflections on the importance of having a harmonized EU framework for imposing sanctions against employers of illegal migrants. It will examine the scope of the directive and its features and will evaluate national legislation by means of the following considerations: 1) What are the national legislations as far as sanctions of employers of illegal workers are concerned? 2) What kind of sanctions do they provide? 3) Are these sanctions effective and efficient? 4) Will the directive help to remedy enforcement difficulties? 5) Which additional to preventive measures can be taken to achieve the above policy objective? 6) What consequences would the new European legislation have on national laws?

In the conclusion, the paper will assess the directive’s added value towards reducing illegal migration which will, hopefully, prepare the ground for further deliberations with the national parliaments and the civil society regarding its transposition and eventually its successful implementation.

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