Romania, Connected to the European Migration Space
Editorial: Ovidiu Laurian SIMINA, Guest Editor

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Economics, demography, war, persecution/repression and ecology are generally accepted as being the main source for international migration. If we put the mentality/culture among all this factors, as a major topic in understanding the phenomena which drive migration, the picture seems to widen. As mentioned in an earlier article quoted in my contribution for this special double-issue of The Romanian Journal of European Studies (authored in co-operation with Prof. Silaşi from the West University of Timişoara), before deciding to migrate, one must cross one ore more border(s): real but mostly ‘imagined’ or ‘imaginary’ borders. It is very important for each person to surpass his/her own mentality before to chose to put behind house, family, children, community and social life, and to move to other region, country or even continent for a better life. The mentality regarding the (decision to) migration is close related to the amount of information available and mainly of education. In the same time, migratory movements could become elements for an increasingly conflicting situation when there is a lack of integration of immigrants and migration policies, related to the lack of education regarding acceptance of immigrants (the mentality) and understanding of the migration phenomenon. In order to understand migration, one should know about it, firstly. When learned about migration, one may study it deeply, to see and understand the causes, consequences and implications, to learn how to take the risks and how to manage migration.


Studying migration in Romania… It is not very simple. Because nowadays is more common to find migration related headlines in the media, than migration subjects in the university curricula. Starting with January 2002, Romanians travelled freely within the EU15 territory, without holding a visa for the Schengen Area. But migration became ‘a topic’ in Romania after the accession of the A8 countries (May 1st, 2004) only, and mainly around the moment of the country’s accession to the European Union. A decade ago and up to 2004, it was difficult to find academic information about Romania on migration, to compare the findings with those presented in the scientific literature abroad, to reveal similarities or differences from other countries in the region or within the European Union. Only a few reports, mostly commissioned by some international organisations, focused on migration from Romania to the European Union. During a conference in Helsinki in September 2002, I was very (positively) surprised by the welcoming of my empirical research about Romania as source and transit country for international migration[1]: some participants asked me where/how to find such data about Romania, as provided in my paper. Indeed, at that time, it was quite a challenge to find reliable figures or good reports in order to prepare a scientific paper[2]. Things changed since 2002, both at the national and the European level (nowadays, we may say that everybody is working on migration, reports on migration are released several times per year at the European level). But even now, when some Romanian universities and NGOs are interested in doing such research, I consider we still don’t have enough research on migration. More of that, the majority of studies are sociological, only a few uses economics for analyse, and dont focus on all aspects. The most important socio-economic study on Romanian migration after 1990, and widely quoted after its release, could be Constantin et al. (2004), a research commissioned by the European Institute of Romania (a governmental funded body), but this uses data available before the biggest wave of EU enlargement, and some hypotheses may be already changed since then. We don’t have enough research on migration as a whole, migration and mobility being analysed from different points of view – social, economical, legal etc. On the other hand, I was not able to find Romanian studies on the legal aspects of migration. It seems to me that Romania still doesn’t have experts on legal issues as related to migration, asylum, mobility and freedom of establishment (and I do hope I am wrong!).


By editing a second issue dedicated to migration and mobility, the Jean Monnet European Centre of Excellence within the West University of Timişoara, editor of The Romanian Journal of European Studies, emphasises the need for migration and mobility research in Romania. At this time, Romanian doesn’t have ‘migration studies’ in the university curricula, migration and mobility are studies as subjects in Economics, Sociology and European Studies, among the most important area of academic research. The team of the Jean Monnet European Centre of Excellence consider that Romanian university need ‘migration studies’ too.


Romania should be understood as part of the European Migration Space not only as a source of labourers for the European labour market, but also as source for quality research in this matter for the European scientific arena. European Union member since 2007, Romania is part of the European area of freedom, security and justice and therefore it is interested in solving correctly all challenges incurred by the complex phenomena of migration and workers’ mobility at the European and international level. The Europe of the last few years was confronted with some major challenges: the accession of twelve new Member States, ratification of the Treaty on European Constitution, the debate on the common budged for 2007-2013, some social movement/riots with ethnic roots, the establishing of the new agenda regarding the area of security and justice, or the mobility for labour of the new Member States. Maybe one of the hottest topics was the liberalising of the accession to the European labour market for the new EU citizens from the A8 states. Together with the waves of illegal immigrants arriving continuously on the Spanish, Italian and Maltese shores, the labour mobility/migration for work of the citizens from the 8 states from the Central and Eastern Europe forced both the EU officials and the citizens from the EU15 states (the so-called ‘Old Europe’) to open the debate on the economical and mostly social consequences of labour mobility. The European Year of Workers’ Mobility 2006 has raised peoples' awareness of their rights to work in another EU country and how to exercise them, reinforced tools to help them find a job abroad, and highlighted the remaining obstacles to a genuine European job market. The collection of valuable papers on migration and mobility from the special issues of The Romanian Journal of European Studies No.4/2006 and No.5-6/2007, along with the colloquiums organized in Timişoara in May 2005 and May 2006, should be seen as our contribution to this important debate.


The papers from this special double-issue were put together according to their scientific quality, after an anonymously peer-review selection. There are twelve papers covering migration from different points of view (unfortunately, we still do not have juridical papers). The twenty authors (and co-authors) belong to economic and social sciences, coming from sixteen universities from the Europe and the Americas. They put under debate both theoretical issues and practical results of their research.


Gonzales-Perez, McDonough and Dundon analyse the concept of “glocalization” of the world economy, which creates a different context for the movement of labour. Some countries and regions are considered to be the top of the “value chain”, while the others must be distributed down along this same chain. “The existence of such a hierarchy is consistent with one view of global business strategy in which paradoxically the global character of production increases the salience of place, that is, of the local. Business seeks to place each of its separate operations in that location which is best suited to accomplish the particular activity from the perspective of the bottom line. In this view globalization is not the homogenization of activity on a global scale, but precisely the opposite. Participation in the global economy whether relatively successful or unsuccessful is no longer a question of convergence on a single successful model, but consists of the generation and maintenance of differences which serve to attract footloose capital.” Glocalization means that homogenous activities on a global scale turn into “local coloured” activities, for a greater disseminations in the local market, with influences on the labour migration. The authors consider that the character of the international system creates a range of functional possibilities for participants in global economic relations in both developed and less developed regions, and the dynamics of local institutions and social relations determines which place localities occupy and the possibilities for future dynamic change.


Krieger and Minter explored an economic approach to understand the granting of amnesties to illegal migrants in a federal setting like the EU. While the existing literature on immigration amnesties focuses on the case of a single independent legalizing country they have expanded this analysis to the case where the legalizing country is part of a federation with little restrictions on labour and household mobility. The immigration policy of the legalizing country does not only affect the welfare of its own residents but also the welfare in the fellow member states. Those countries are affected by the increased mobility of legalized migrants and therefore by a higher migratory pressure of unskilled individuals. Krieger and Minter demonstrated in a simple framework which connects marginal benefits and marginal costs of border enforcement that the legalizing country grants an excessive amnesty to illegal aliens from the federal perspective. This behaviour is caused through the expected onward migration of legalized migrants, which decreases the marginal benefit of border enforcement.


Philip aims to identify the structuring logic of the migration flows within Europe by analysing  how French young people move abroad, to determine how they rebuild territorial identities, and to find out the distinctive patterns of the links generated by these movements across a ‘space-system’ continually re-organising itself politically and spatially. She considers that the free flow of people operates like a political right symbolically and practically reinforcing Europe’s building process, and the resulting migrations remain largely unexplored and hardly regarded as a driving force shaping the new European space. The point of her study is to offer an approach that will put into sociological perspective this new social object by emphasizing the links, new definitions, and exchanges between the various levels of territorial membership engendered by cross-border movements.


Gurdgiev compares the experiences with migration in Denmark and Ireland - two states with dissimilar attitudes towards migration. Following the 2004 accession, Denmark and Ireland have chosen different approaches to migration policy regarding the citizens from A8 states. Gurdgiev consider that the importance of this comparison rests on the fact that prior to the 2004 accession, both countries exhibited some of the most liberal immigration policies in the EU, but as regarding the new EU Member States, these policies were fundamentally different. “While Ireland embraced liberal market-based approach, Denmark chose to follow migration policies that favoured humanitarian reasons for granting residency over economic. Thus, the two countries represent a perfect example of similar overarching migration flows with differing selection mechanisms prior to the Accession and diametrically opposing policies following the Accession”.


White and Tadesse examine the role of immigrants in influencing Italian exports to and imports from their respective home countries. Particular emphasis was placed on variation in the immigrant-trade relationship across Former Soviet Republic and Post-Communist country classifications relative to immigrants from non- and non- countries. They consider that “immigrants are generally found to exert pro-trade influences, with proportional immigrant effects being somewhat comparable across home country classifications”. The hypotheses of White and Tadesse included exploring the existence of an immigrant-trade link for Italy, examining variation in the link across home countries and product types, and considering estimated per-immigrant influences on Italian-home country trade flows. They conclude that immigrants are found to increase trade flows between the host country and their respective home countries. In the same time, “EU enlargement and further weakening of restrictions on East-West migration will most likely lead to an intensified debate and, perhaps, more calls for restrictive immigration policies in western European capitals”.


The economical paper of Yaya examines the effect of several macroeconomic variables such as GDP, imports, unemployment, immigration and emigration on the real wages and salaries of German workers. He used annual data for 49 years to estimate twelve different regressions, trying to capture the effect of these variables on the real wages and salaries in Germany while considering the unification of West-East Germany with a dummy variable. He considers that the results of his research are “intriguing, and contradicting with most of the earlier literature”. Imports were found to be affecting the wages significantly at the 10% confidence level, and affecting salaries insignificantly with a positive coefficient, claiming that imports in Germany, contrary to the literature, may be growth inducing, which consist mostly intermediary goods that are used for production industries. For different wage and salary groups, increase in imports is inducing male dominated jobs and their wages significantly but imports have insignificant negative impact on job wages dominated by female workers.


The empirical analysis of Topaloglou is based on a research carried out in nine cross border areas at the EU’s external borders within the framework of the EXLINEA. European Research Programme. He focuses on the problems, the policies, the practices and the perceptions that seem to prevail across the Northern Greek borders. The role of "border" in daily life, the major issues and also the motives for cross-border operation, the impacts of cross-border interaction in terms of the "core-periphery" relation and the development of international relations, were all examined. Among his conclusion, we emphasise the fact that, in Topaloglou opinion, “for Greeks, borders separate something, which is ‘different’, while for their northern neighbours borders separate something, which is the ‘same’. In other words, the role of EU is decisive regarding the configuration of perceptions of ‘us’ and ‘the other’.”


Vicsek, Keszi and Márkus discuss the representation of refugee affairs in the Hungarian press, in the framework of an annual survey of two leading national Hungarian dailies. Their results show that Hungarian media often treat refugee affairs as an ‘official’ political matter. The question of refugee affairs was often presented together with a negative topic: it was linked in the articles to the topic of crime/illegal actions. Few articles write about persons who have successfully integrated into the host society, programmes assisting refugees or other positive developments, while the asylum-seekers, the refugees are rarely given an opportunity in the articles to tell their life stories, the cause and circumstances of their actions. They consider that the question of refugee affairs is a topic where the image shown by the media is of great relevance: the media can be a more important source of information on this subject than personal contacts, especially if the number of persons in refugee affairs is small within the given society. The negative representation in the media of persons involved in refugee affairs is a serious problem because people treat negative information concerning minorities differently from similar reports not about minorities. People are far less likely at such times to find an excuse for the negative behaviour than in the case of persons not belonging to a minority and they also tend to generalise to the whole of the given minority.


In her article based on a case study on the Chinese Community in Bucharest, Wundrak focuses on the historical development of the new Chinese migration wave to Eastern Europe, the immigration-process during the early ‘wild’ years of transition in the 1990s and finally the political and economical embeddedness of Chinese immigrants into the transition society. In particular, the article highlights the complexity of the immigrants’ network-building during this process, which implicates both transnational links to the homeland and immigrants’ incorporation into a rapidly changing host society. Her analysis has shown that the Chinese population which constitutes one of Bucharest’s main immigrant communities is embedded in a society in transition and nonetheless managed to become successful business entrepreneurs. The new Chinese migration to Eastern Europe can be differentiated from traditional emigrations, not only in its timing, but also by way of several distinct features. This emigrant population is marked by internal diversity, is highly mobile and includes a few businessmen who are extremely financially successful. They are key characteristics of both the global economy of Chinese migration, and the process of local incorporation of immigrant businesses into the system of transition in Romania.


Alexandru aims at contributing to the understanding of circulatory migration in post-communist Romania by resorting to status inconsistency as the main explanatory factor for the international mobility phenomenon. She considers that the analysis of status inconsistency at the individual level evaluates the correlation between income, education and occupation, as well as the subjective representation of one’s position on the socio-economic scale. Status inconsistency at the community level refers to the relative deprivation theory while appraising the economic differential between migrant households and households with no migration experience. Her paper shows that the propensity to migrate is higher for status inconsistent persons. “In a highly disruptive transition environment, individuals affected by structural changes sought means of coping with downward social mobility and frustration”. Alexandru argues that status inconsistency as a multidimensional characteristic of status influences migration behaviour, while those individuals who have never had the experience of an inferior job will find it harder to cope with the distress caused by repetitive job responsibilities abroad.


Roman and Suciu deal with the issue of international mobility of students. They noticed that the Romanian student mobility is lower that European one, therefore they focus on barriers to international student mobility, and also on policy measures that should be taken in Romania. They consider that the Bologna process had a great impact on higher education policy and on the course and program structure at many education institutions. The mobility factor will considerably affect the future of higher education and its benefits must not be neglected. They conclude that Romanian student mobility is facing a dimension unmet before and is increasingly during the last years. They are proposing solutions in overcoming the obstacles in greater student mobility: “financial support, more information and the necessity of Romanian higher education institutions to be more involved in attracting European students”.

In the final paper, Silaşi and Simina consider that Romania, a country with a labour market that faces distortions, will benefit from migration on short term, but will need to import labour force in order to maintain the development trend. Remittances, as result of Romanians emigration after 2002, helped the economic development of the country in the last years (remittances’ inflow doubled the FDI). As a response to the media debate regarding Romania’s emigration, Silaşi and Simina consider that the fear of mass migration from Romania following the year 2007 is not justified. While the European (and mostly British) media cries on the threat of Bulgarians and Romanians’ emigration, as following to the 2007 accession, the scientific reports say that the A8 countries’ migration benefits to economy of the EU15 countries. In the same time, the Romanian media and the Romanian entrepreneurs announce the ‘Chinese invasion’ and the lack of labour in construction, industry and even agriculture. Romania is not only a gateway for the East-West international migration (like Portugal, Spain, Italy and Greece for the South-North direction), but a labour market in need of workers. While a big part of the labour force is already migrated, mostly to the SE Europe (more than 2.5m workers are cited to be abroad, with both legal and illegal/irregular status), the Romanian companies could not find local workers to use them in order to benefit from the money inflow targeting Romania in the light of its new membership to the European Union (foreign investments and European post accession funds). Instead of increasing the salaries, the local employers rather prefer to ‘import’ workers from poorer countries (Chinese, Moldavians, Ukrainians, who still accept a lower wage as compared to the medium wage in Romania, but bigger enough as compared to those from their country of origin).


After I had the opportunity to co-organise two international colloquiums on mobility and migration (Timişoara, May 2005 and May 2006) in the framework of the Jean Monnet European Centre of Excellence of the West University of Timişoara, I was honoured to accept the important challenge of editing this special double-issue of The Romanian Journal of European Studies as Guest-editor. I thank Professor Silaşi and the editorial team for their full support. I hope I managed to do a good job here, because working at this issue emphasised the sentiment that I must do all my best to continue the idea which was at the origin of the project of the School of High Comparative European Studies (SISEC) of the West University of Timişoara: promoting the idea of introducing the mobility and migration studies in the academic curricula of the Romanian universities.


Ovidiu Laurian Simina is counsellor (personal adviser) to the secretary of state for the liaison with the Parliament and European affairs, Romanian Ministry of Interior and Administrative Reform, and PhD Candidate (Economics) of the West University of Timişoara, Jean Monnet European Centre of Excellence. Law graduate from the Law Faculty of  Alexandru Ioan Cuza Police Academy, Bucharest (specialisation: border police, immigration, asylum and refugees) and MA in High European Studies from the School of High Comparative European Studies (SISEC) of the West University of Timişoara, Mr. Simina served five years as immigration and border police officer, both at the Border Police checkpoints and at the “green” border (Romanian borders with Serbia and Hungary), before to join the Legal Directorate of the ministry.

[1] Romania – Source Country and Transit Country for International Migration, SISEC Discussion Papers No.I/1 October 2002, West University of Timişoara, School of High Comparative European Studies (SISEC), Timişoara: SISEC, October (poster presentation at the UNU/WIDER Conference on Poverty, International Migration and Asylum”, Helsinki, Finland, 27-28 September 2002).

[2] The book of Sandu (1985) is the oldest sociological volume on Romanian migration I have found, while the first economical book on international migration is a 1987 volume written by Albu and Roşu-Hamzescu (maybe there are few others more migration books, but they are very difficult to find, meaning ‘unavailable’, the same like ‘inexistent’). After 2000, the migration literature mentions few more authors as part of the research teams conducted by Dumitru Sandu, Vasile Gheţău or Sebastian Lăzăroiu (it seems that the majority of Romanian authors who work on Romanian migration both in Romania and abroad are originated or are part of what we may call ‘the Sociological School of Bucharest’). A non-comprehensive overview of the migration literature should mention the followings, as being the most common cited and used both in Romania literature and abroad. Sandu, Dumitru (1985): Fluxurile de migraţie în România (Migratory Flows in Romania), Bucharest: Editura Academiei; Sandu, Dumitru (2001): Migraţie şi mobilitate internaţională (International Migration and Mobility), in Barometrul de Opinie Publică (Public Opinion Barometer), Bucharest: Open Society Foundation, October; Constantinescu, Monica (2002): Teorii ale migraţiei internaţionale (Theories of International Migration), in Sociologie Românească (Romanian Sociology), No.3-4/2002, Bucharest, pp. 93-114; Diminescu, Dana and Lăzăroiu, Sebastian (2002): Migraţia circulatorie a românilor după 1990 (Circulatory Migration of Romanians After 1990), Bucharest: IOM Mission in Romania; Lăzăroiu, Sebastian (2002): The Circulatory Migration of the Romanian Work Force. Consequences on European Integration, Bucharest; Ghetau, Vasile (2003): Declinul demografic continuă (The Demographic Decline Continues), Barometrul Social (Social Barometer), February; Lăzăroiu, Sebastian (2003): The Risks of Irregular Migration to the European Union. Perceptions and Trends, Bucharest: IOM Mission in Romania; Diminescu, Dana (2003): Visible, mais peu nombreux. Les Circulations migratoires roumaines (ed.), Paris: Edition de le Maison des Sciences de l’Homme; Ghetau, Vasile (2004): 2050: Will Romania’s Population Fall Below 16 Million Inhabitants?, Romanian Academy, National Institute of Economic Research, Vladimir Trebici Population Research Center, Bucharest; Lazea, Valentin, Dumitru, Mihail and Diminescu, Dana (2004): Migraţia în străinătate a forţei de muncă provenită din mediul rural. Aspecte şi recomandări (Migration Abroad of the Labour Forces Originated from Rural Area. Aspects and Recommendations), in Grigore Silaşi (ed.): Europa între cei 15 şi cei 25 (Europe between the 15th and the 25th), Timişoara: Editura Universităţii de Vest; Lăzăroiu, Sebastian (2004): More ‘Out’ than ‘In’ at the Crossroads between Europe and the Balkans, in Migration Trends in Selected Applicant Countries, Volume IV–Romania, Vienna: International Organization for Migration; Constantin, Daniela-Luminiţa et al (2004), The Migration Phenomenon from the Perspective of Romania’s Accession to the European Union, Pre-Accession Impact Studies II, Study no.5, Bucharest: The European Institute of Romania.