Revisiting the EU's New Mobility Regime: The Impact of Mobility and Policies on Labour Market Hierarchies within and across the EU

Jens Arnholtz*, Janine Leschke

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


This paper serves as the introduction for a special issue investigating the current status of the new EU mobility regime close to 20 years after the first eastward enlargement. Our main claim is that EU labour mobility is shaped by and has created multiple hierarchies across the EU and within EU countries, as is evident in the unequal labour market outcomes of different groups of mobile EU workers. The EU migration regime has grown more complex and diversified over the years, but underneath this complexity remain strong hierarchies that structure the patterns and consequences of mobility. We therefore propose the concept of ‘hierarchized mobility’ to grasp the complex yet unequal mobility opportunities of workers within the EU. Moreover, we argue that to understand this hierarchised mobility, both socio-economic factors and regulation should be studied. On the one hand, enduring hierarchies between national labour markets shape EU labour mobility and transform these hierarchies into hierarchies within national labour markets. On the other hand, both national and EU policies regulate and shape mobility and the hierarchies it creates. The interaction between EU rules that shape different categories of mobile workers and national social and labour market regulation can counteract or reinforce the trend towards hierarchised mobility.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Ethnic and Migration Studies
Issue number16
Pages (from-to)4071-4091
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023

Bibliographical note

Published online: 23 May 2023


  • EU labour mobility
  • Intra-EU migration
  • Hierarchised mobility
  • EU mobility regime
  • Labour market integration
  • Regulation
  • Central Eastern Europe

Cite this