Handbook of the International Political Economy of Migration
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Handbook of the International Political Economy of Migration

Edited by Leila Simona Talani and Simon McMahon

This Handbook discusses theoretical approaches to migration studies in general, as well as confronting various issues in international migration from a distinctive international political economy perspective. It examines migration as part of a global political economy whilst addressing the theoretical debate relating to the capacity of the state to control international migration and the so called ‘policy gap’ or ‘gap hypothesis’ between migration policies and their outcomes.
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Chapter 13: Regional integration and migration in the European Union

Simon McMahon


Throughout history migration has been a defining characteristic of European society, visible in networks of soldiers and tradesmen stretching across the Roman Empire, in patterns of commerce between the continent’s medieval city-regions or in flows of refugees escaping persecution and destruction during two world wars. Nevertheless, despite this long history of population movements it is the politics of immigration in the second half of the twentieth and the early twenty-first centuries that deserve particularly close inspection. During this period, much of the continent has taken part in the development of the European Union (EU), a common system of governance, bundling the member states’ economic and political authority in binding treaties and shared institutions. At the same time, leaders of many European states have also made increasingly significant efforts to control and manage the arrival of migrants to their countries, whilst often criticising the EU for weakening their own border controls and increasing the arrival of undocumented immigrants and organised crime in their countries (see, e.g., Guardian 2012). International migration and the development of the EU have thus together been interpreted as an affront to the sovereign control of national governments, to determine who can reside in their space, aggravating the deterritorialisation or undermining of the nation state by globalisation (Joppke 1998; Sassen 1996; Soysal 1994).

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