Central and Eastern Europe - duality of emigration and immigration regimes?

The unique role of Central and Eastern Europe in the European migration system dates back to the early 1990s. It was then when terms like ‘buffer zone’ or ‘migration space’ were conceived to address migratory processes taking place in the CEE region. Eastwards enlargements of the European Union changed the context of the mobility in the region introducing, among others, what can be called a duality of emigration and immigration regimes in the CEE region. The role of non-EU destinations has diminished and consequently emigration from the CEE European Union countries proceeds primarily within intra-EU mobility regulations. Meanwhile, immigrants coming to the region originate first of all from countries outside the Union with the main role of ex-USSR countries and especially Ukraine.

Emigration from the region changed from predominantly circular, often irregular, into documented, long-term or fluid migration – involving readiness of migrants to change residence in the Union. Immigration to the CEE region increased and became more regularised. However, immigrants tend to continue their temporary migration projects, mainly circular migration, and have relatively small propensity towards settlement in the destination areas.

The paper addresses the continuation and change in migration trends in CEE region as a consequence of eastwards enlargements of the European Union. Its main focus is the role of the duality of regimes, political and legal, governing emigration from and immigration to the CEE region in these processes. It can be argued that such duality has profound consequences for mobility patterns of CEE citizens and contributes to the slow-down of the transition of some CEE countries from emigrant-sending to immigrant-receiving countries. Moreover, the paper acknowledges and discusses the regional diversity in the speed and character of the above general tendencies in the CEE region.