Understanding free movement and migration in the European Union
Flow greater than stock would indicate
When we think about migrants and migration, we tend to think in terms of people who move somewhere permanently — or at least for the long-term. Academics refer to the population of migrants in a given country as the ‘stock’, and it is a standard measure of the size of the migrant population. But REMINDER research has highlighted how stock data alone paints an incomplete and simplistic picture of the patterns and, in particular, the dynamics of intra-EU migration: it only provides static snapshots.
By adding ‘flow’ data — the measurements of migrants coming and going to and from a country — researchers have shown that many more people move between member states each year than the stock figures suggest. The REMINDER team’s analysis of country-to-country ‘flow corridors’ shows that large numbers of intra-EU citizens return home every year, which suggests there may be important patterns of circular migration, especially of those of Romanian birth or citizenship.
In thinking about the scale of migrant populations in different countries, it also matters whether we consider migrant stocks in absolute numbers or in relation to the native or total population. In absolute numbers, Germany, the UK and Spain are the countries hosting the largest number of intra-EU migrants, but relative to population, it is Luxembourg, Cyprus and Ireland which have the highest numbers, with Luxembourg’s foreign EU citizens accounting for 40.7% of the total population.