My PhD research is about European free movement. Or about migration. Or mobility. No about both. Since it is about how different authorities talk about free movement, it is about the contested perceptions on free movement, sometimes referred to as European mobility AND migration. And in Britain I regularly do not need to explain that there are contested perceptions on this topic…But also in other member-states this is the case. In France, the ‘Polish plumber’ played a significant role in the rejection of the EU constitution in 2005, in Sweden there are fierce debates around ‘new’ beggars and homeless people and the Dutch vice-prime minister called upon a ‘Code Orange’ for a better awareness on the ‘shadow sides’ of free movement. So it illustrates free movement of workers as a strongly contested and controversial topic in which ‘a variety of perspectives’ play a role.
Therefore in my PhD research I study the politics of intra-European movement discourses on the level of the European Commission and the Dutch national and local level. For that aim I collected data (within the research project IMAGINATION, see: www.project-imagination.eu), such as qualitative semi-structured interviews with politicians, stakeholders and policymakers next to desk research of parliamentary statements and policy documents.
As a preliminary result I see that the discursive divergence between the Dutch and European level has institutional consequences in terms of divergence between policies, laws and legislation. It gives an insightful understanding about the contestation between member-states and the European Commission and the fierce political debates that went along. In extreme cases, it sometimes evolved into policy deadlocks, policy stalemates or ‘dialogues of the deaf’. This study gives insights and aims to better understand the institutional contestation related to European migration and mobility.
From the beginning of September onwards to the end of December I will work at De Montfort University to strengthen my understanding of this policy contestation. In close collaboration with Prof Steven Griggs and his expertise on governments, policy contestation and discursive approaches, I will sensitize my research and specify the argument of my PhD thesis. I hope that DMU provides a stimulating and inspiring environment that contributes to my international experience as young scholar.
As a MA student I lived, studied and worked in the UK (Manchester) before, a very valuable experience at that time. I hope by connecting the angle of my PhD thesis to the research of the Department of Politics and Public Policy, that this could strengthen my argument and we could lay some groundwork for future collaborations in terms of research, education and funding.
I already love being in Leicester with its high diversity, two internationally oriented universities and a high standard in its quality-of-living. I’m looking forward to the period ahead,
Mark Van Ostaijen
Visiting Research Scholar from Erasmus University Rotterdam