Freedom of movement of citizens constitutes one of the core values of the European Union and is closely linked to European citizenship. There is, however, a heated debate in many of the destination Member States about the impact of intra-EU mobility on their public services. The debate centres on the ‘welfare magnet hypothesis’, which holds that migrants, including mobile citizens from the central and eastern European Member States, are attracted by the better quality of these services and easier access to them in the host countries. The issue has become highly politicised recently, especially as a consequence of the economic crisis and the increased inflow of these EU mobile citizens.
The main objective of this research project is to explore whether there is any evidence to support the welfare magnet hypothesis. It examines the take-up of benefits and social services by mobile citizens from 10 central and eastern European Member States (EU10 mobile citizens) in 9 host countries – Austria, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the UK – compared to the native populations and other citizen groups. It also seeks to identify the obstacles to their integration in the host countries and initiatives to aid their integration.