Objectives and Summary: The objectives of this research carried out under a documented doctoral thesis in political and social sciences is to understand what happens during the development of labour migration policy work at the European level and how was developed a discourse in favor of a new labour migration in Europe. The research is based mainly on semi-structured interviews with actors of the European institutions and European civil society and a body of literature. The analysis of the different phases of EU policy-making first shows how an emerging European discourse on the part of the European Commission which breaks with the dominant public discourse of closure to labor migration and defends a community approach of this immigration. She then explains how this discourse is evolving and changing to develop a differentiated approach to labor migration to a change in public policy. This change is materialized by the adoption of the Directive known as the “blue card” and a half-opening of EU for labour migration. The thesis demonstrates several elements that characterize the policy-making in Europe. First, the malleability of the discourse of the Commission characterized by different levels of  ideas is highlighted. Second, the Commission seeks above all to position itself as a supranational actor and strengthen its competences. Third, the recognition of continuous and sustainable migration is uneven among the various European actors. They tend to prefer temporary work immigration. Finally, the resolution of the paradox that privileges the temporary migration of immigrants while requiring qualities of permanence manifests itself by favoring the admission of specific categories of migrants presumed a already integrated or transforming integration into a condition of admission .

The first part consists of a  three-dimensional literature review (sociology of migration, European studies and public policy analysis) to locate the questioning at the intersection of these fields of research. The initial chapter therefore addresses the main theoretical approaches to understanding public policy in what respects they can be considered and what may be the explanatory variables in their evolution. Public policy is studied for the regulation of immigration. In the second chapter,  various theories of immigration policies have been identified and explained in order to highlight specific factors that constrain the development of these policies and those that explain the variance in terms of opening and closing to immigration. The third chapter deals with the European immigration policy. After a brief review of theories of European integration, European cooperation on immigration and the activities of European actors in the policy-making are considered.

The second part explains the process, the concepts used (Chapter 4) and methodological tools for collecting and analysing data (Chapter 5).

The empirical work is on display in the third part of this research. The development process of the Community labour immigration policy takes place in three phases, each corresponding to a chapter. Chapter 6 presents two proposals of Directives on the admission of workers and provides a historical perspective on the European discourse prior to the implementation of the Amsterdam Treaty. The seventh chapter develops the first phase of the process (opening) which is the enunciation of a European discourse that promotes a community approach to  immigration. Following the instruments proposed to implement a Community immigration policy, the reactions are negative on the part of policymakers. The Council quickly blocks any progress in any attempt at negotiation and adoption. And then we try to explain, beyond denial, what follow are given in terms of ideas and discourse. This is the phase of stalemate (Chapter 8). Finally, Chapter 9 describes the third phase (the end) with the evolution of the European discourse on labor migration and the strategy of differentiated approach that is developed with the emergence of a figure of pre-integrated migrant embodied by the highly skilled worker. We show how the discourse of the Commission is changing in some respects, and then allows the adoption of the Council Directive on the conditions of entry and residence of third country nationals for the purposes of highly qualified employment (“Card Blue “). The general conclusions consist of a critical review of research, followed by a critical discourse as a force for change and finally the implications of political views on immigration as a social fact.

Researcher: Sonia Gsir (under the supervision of Marco Martiniello)

Duration and funding: 2004-2011 (PhD in Political and Social Sciences; presented February 14, 2011 at the ISHS-ULg) – partial support from the Belgian Science Policy through the Interuniversity Attraction Pole on the Law of the European integration (internal and external dimensions)

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