Centre for the Analysis of Social Policy

Mobile Welfare in a Transnational Europe: An analysis of Portability Regimes of Social Security Rights (TRANSWEL)

Principal Investigator: Emma Carmel (UK Team)

Project Team (UK): Dr Bozena Sojka, Ms Kinga Papiez

Project Partners: Dr Anna Amelina (programme lead, Goethe University Frankfurt), Dr Emma Carmel (Bath), Dr Ann Runfors (Sodertorn University, Sweden), Dr Elisabeth Scheibelhofer (University of Vienna)

Funder: NORFACE Network/ESRC

Duration: February 2015 - January 2018


Project rationale and aims

About the project

This 4-country, comparative, and interdisciplinary project addresses one of the most important and controversial issues in the European Union today: the social rights of EU citizens from the new EU member states who move to live and/or work in an old member state.

Empirically, the project traces the migration of regularly and irregularly employed migrants and their family members, and their social security rights between four pairs of countries: Hungary-Austria, Bulgaria-Germany, Poland-United Kingdom and Estonia-Sweden. It assesses what the social and welfare rights of mobile citizens are in policy and in practice; how mobile EU citizens experience, organise and manage their welfare transnationally; and what the consequences are, for the patterning of inequality among EU citizens.

Conceptually, the project brings together work on transnational migration, and on the portability of social security rights, by which we mean the ability to transfer and convert such rights across national borders. The project comprises four ‘workpackages’: documentary analysis and expert interviews on the relevant regulatory framework; quantitative survey of migrants in each case; discourse analysis and qualitative interviews with migrants; comparative synthesis of findings from the 4 paired country cases. 

Proposed outputs

The main outcome will be a typology of transnational portability regimes derived from the comparative analysis of four research objectives for the four respective pairs of countries:

  1. Analysis of the legal regulations on the portability of social security rights
  2. Analysis of the practices of portability of social security rights, including limitations
  3. How portability regulations incorporate gendered, ethnicised/nationalised, age-related, class-related and other discourses of belonging, and how this shapes individual’s access to social security
  4. Mapping the experiences of inequality resulting from the possible limitations to the portability of social security rights

Findings will be disseminated via:

Policy Briefs

These policy briefs were launched at the TRANSWEL policy stakeholder event in Brussels, 25 January 2016. The stakeholder seminar was organised and co-hosted by TRANSWEL and the Institute for Policy Research at the University of Bath:

Presentations of our research

The UK/Poland TRANSWEL team have presented their work at the following events:

  • Emma Carmel gave expert evidence in the European Parliament on 12 October, 2016. You can watch this here 
  • EU Free movement and citizenship, international research seminar, 27-28 June 2016, University of Sheffield, UK - Emma Carmel     
  • Barriers to accessing and porting family benefits for Polish migrants in the UK, 17 June 2016, University of Bristol, UK - Kinga Papiez
  • Governance of migration, international research seminar, 17 June 2016, University of Bristol, UK - Emma Carmel and Bozena Sojka          
  • Are social rights as selective privilege not universal right for the EU citizens? 4 June 2016, Krakow, Poland - Kinga Papiez
  • Higher Seminar in Ethnology, 12 May 2016, Södertörn University, Sweden - Bozena Sojka
  • Resilient Europe? The Council for European Studies Conference, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, April 14-16, 2016, U.S.A.- Bozena Sojka
  • BSA Annual Conference, Birmingham, 6-8 April 2016, UK - Bozena Sojka
  • TRANSWEL Policy stakeholder seminar, Brussels, 25 January 2016, UK - Emma Carmel and Bozena Sojka                                              



Find out more about this project

Name: Dr Emma Carmel
Title: Senior Lecturer
Department: Dept of Social and Policy Sciences
Location: 3 East 4.03
E-mail: sssekc@bath.ac.uk
Phone: work+44 (0) 1225 384685