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The Formation of Germany's Preferences on the Economic Migration Directive: Institutions, Structural Factors and Domestic Actors

Matthias Mayer

EU Member States (MS) have been hesitant to transfer sovereignty about legal economic migration policies to the EU. The paper tries to answer the research questions why and under what conditions do EU MS support a common EU policy on legal economic migration? The question will be addressed with regard to a Directive on economic migration that was proposed in 2001 by the European Commission but was not adopted by the Council.The paper introduces liberal intergovernmentalism as a theory. It agrees with the proposition that MS preferences are crucial in determining whether EU policies come about. However, rather than to use the concept of a domestic power struggle, the paper argues that on legal economic migration, it is more telling to look at structural factors.The paper puts forward two hypotheses. First, EU MS support a common EU economic migration policy because it enables them to compete on the global level for the best migrants and consequently fill their domestic labour shortages. Second, if there is a small migrant stock in a MS, it will support EU policies on economic migration. The paper assesses these hypotheses for the cases of Germany and the UK.

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