Mediterranean and Eastern European Countries as new immigration destinations in the European Union

Objectives and research questions

The central task of the project IDEA was to analyse the mechanisms of immigration to Europe at the nation state level. A consortium of scientific institutions from nine EU countries analysed the causes, characteristics and impacts of migration flows in the – at that time – new European immigration destinations in Southern and Eastern Europe with a reference to established Western European immigration countries. Comparing migration flows and relevant policies aimed at facilitating the identification of similar challenges and a transfer of experiences. The analysis addressed historical, political and economic backgrounds in order to prepare a model of future migration trends in selected parts of the EU.

The project was led by the Centre of Migration Research (CMR) at the University of Warsaw and included three Eastern European countries (Poland, Czechia and Hungary), four “new” immigration countries the Mediterranean region (Italy, Greece, Portugal and Spain) and two “old” immigration countries (France and Austria).


The transformation of EU-27 member states from emigration to immigration countries indeed seems to follow certain patterns. This was proven by developing a conceptual explanatory model which goes beyond the established migration theories (push-and-pull model, world system theory, migration system theory) by including the specifics of European migration.

The concept of a “migration cycle” begins with the assumption that states that transform from emigration to immigration countries go through different phases. The actual transition is followed by characteristic phases of structural and political modifications of the dominant migration regime. The cycle is – only provisionally – completed, as soon as the political system and public opinion has accepted immigration as a part of normality.

The results were published in Amsterdam University Press. 


Fassmann, Heinz and Ursula Reeger, 2008. Austria. From guest worker migration to a country of immigration. IDEA Working Paper. Vienna.

Fassmann, Heinz and Ursula Reeger, 2008. Synthesis report: “Old” immigration countries. Vienna.

Fassmann, Heinz, 2009. Die Geographie der Europäischen Migration – ein Überblick. In: Institut, Sir Peter Ustinov (Hrsg.). Feindbild Zuwanderer. Vorurteile und deren Überwindung. Wien, Braumüller: 43-56.

Kohlbacher, Josef und Ursula Reeger, 2009. Der bewegte Kontinent – Migration in und nach Europa. In: Robert Musil und Christian Staudacher (Hrsg.). Mensch.Raum.Umwelt. Entwicklungen und Perspektiven der Geographie in Österreich. Wien.

Fassmann, Heinz und Ursula Reeger, 2012. "Old" immigration countries in Europe. The concept and empirical examples. In: Marek Okolski (ed.). European Immigrations. Trends, Structures and Policy Implications. Amsterdam, Amsterdam University Press: 65-90.