Stan Razvan



Managing Illegal Labour Migration from Eastern Europe to the European Union.

The Case of Romanian Migrant Workers


Research Proposal






The breakdown of the “Iron Curtain” and the post-communist transformations led to increased illegal labour migration from Eastern to Western Europe, and this become an important issue in the negotiation process between the candidate countries seeking accession and the European Union. In the Romanian case the number of migrant workers has dramatically increased since 1990, with a turning point in 2001, when the EU visa restrictions were lifted. In April 2003 it was estimated that 12 per cent of Romanian households had at least one member working abroad at that moment (National Centre for Urban and Regional Sociology). The economic shock of transition  to the market, which cut real wages and living standards dramatically and brought unemployment, as well as the outdated national migration legislation and the incapacity of official channels and service providers to meet the high demand for jobs abroad, led to a high rate of illegal migration among Romanian workers and made them victims of organized traffickers and smugglers. Frequently they face economic exploitation through forced labour and other violation of their human rights. 

            This project aims to provide a qualitative understanding of the causes, means and effects of illegal labour migration through a pilot study in a high-rate Romanian sending region, and to integrate the findings in a set of informed policy recommendation at central and local level for a better management of illegal migration. Particularly, it aims to promote practical solutions for the decrease of people trafficking and smuggling phenomena.




·        To asses the successes and failures of central and local initiatives to control illegal migration;

·        To identify the  push and pull factors that contribute to illegal migration of Romanian workers, based on an in-depth case study;

·        To uncover the routes, structure, dynamics and methods of several illegal migration networks in order to inform prevention and awareness-raising efforts;

·        To formulate informed policy recommendations and to disseminate them to relevant stakeholders and environments in order to stimulate reflection, debate and public pressure on the illegal migration issues.





            Given the complexity of the studied phenomenon, the research methodology will articulate several methods, sources and perspectives. Semi-structured interviews will be held with several relevant actors including:


·        Key stakeholders responsible for the management of labour migration from central governmental institutions and local administration (Ministry of Labour and Social Protection, Mayoralty and Prefecture)

·        Activists in the relevant local NGOs and international organizations (including International Organization for Migration and International Labor Organization)

·        Other experts on migration issues, including political scientists, sociologists and legal specialists.

·        Labour migrants and their families.


Data from policy documents as well as from scientific reports on illegal migration will complement the information gathered through interviews. A comparative literature review will address the situation of other neighboring countries from Eastern Europe. Available statistical data regarding the migration trends and the evolution of illegal patterns will also provide a useful structural context.





·        Increased sanctions cannot prevent irregular migration on the long term. Since smugglers and traffickers are creative in finding new ways to bypass regulations, sanctions alone cannot guarantee the sustainability of prevention.

·        The development of less costly legal opportunities to migrate abroad and to find working places will reduce the migrants’ risks and their vulnerability to criminal networks.

·        The migrants’ vulnerability is partly determined by the absence or inefficiency of the awareness campaigns regarding the migration risks and the available legal means. 





·        Literature monitoring


·        Interviews with central authorities and field research in a Romanian high-rate sending region (individual and focus group interviews will be held both with migrants and with other relevant stakeholders – local authorities, labour mediating actors and civil society representatives)


·        Writing a comprehensive policy research report for stimulating the development of legal migration opportunities and prevention of migrants’ exploitation.


·        The dissemination of the policy recommendations through the IPF web page and by sending the policy and research papers to  concerned national and local officials, stakeholders and organizations including representatives of Ministry of Labour and Social Protection, Ministry of Administration and Interior and International Organization for Migration.





·        The provision of reliable data on the root causes, means and impacts of illegal migration patterns.


·        The introduction of informed policy recommendations in the agendas of relevant stakeholders through identifying best practices at different levels and stimulating collaborative strategies in order to prevent and reduce human exploitation through trafficking and smuggling.






Kelly, E. Journeys of Jeopardy: A Review of Research on Trafficking in Women and Children in Europe. London: International Organization for Migration, 2002.


Kalb, D. “Afterword. Globalism and Postsocialist Prospects”, in Hann, C. M. (ed.), Postsocialism. Ideals, Ideologies and Practices in Eurasia, London: Routledge, 2002.


Lazaroiu, S. Who is the Next Victim? Vulnerability of Young Romanian Women to Trafficking in Human Beings, Bucharest: International Organization for Migration, Mission in Romania, 2003.


Massey, D. S. et. al. “Theories of International Migration: A review and Appraisal” in –Population and Development Review, 19,3, 1993.


Snel, E. and Richard S. “Poverty, Migration and Coping Strategies: An Introduction” in Focaal, 38, 2001.


Stan, R. “Looking for the Real Miners. Professional Culture in Jiu Valley”, in Craciun, M., Grecu, M. and Stan. R. The World of the Valley: The Unity of Mine, The diversity of Miners. Bucharest: Paideia, 2002.


Stan R. “Deindustrialization and Transnational Migration. The Case of Jiu Valley Mining Region” in Romanian Journal of Political Science, Volume 3, No 3, 2004 (to be published).


Urzua, R. “International Migration, Social science, and Public Policy” In Social Research and Public Policy Interactions, Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, UNESCO 2000.

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