The paper offers a perspective on the evolution of migration processes in post-WWII Europe.
The concept of “migration cycle” is introduced to provide theoretical underpinnings for the analysis of the often complex relationship between migration and the state.This relationship becomes particularly complex when former net emigration countries transform their (migration) “status” to that of net immigration.
Accordingly, three groups of European countries are distinguished in the paper taking into account their experience with inflows of foreign citizens. These are: “mature”, “new” and “future” immigration countries or, respectively, Western, Southern and Central European states.
This process of transformation of European countries from net emigration to net immigration states is analysed from three different perspectives: historical, economical and political. The paper opens with a historical and statistical overview of the past and present migration patterns in Europe and their influence on the changing demographic structure of the continent. Of particular interest are contemporary migration patterns triggered by the recent EU enlargements.
The concept of the “fluid migration” as a new trend in the intra-EU mobility is introduced to highlight the changing structure of European migration. Next, the paper takes an economic perspective to analyse the impact of migration processes on both national and European labour markets and demands for welfare state support. It shows that while the political debate on European migration is often coloured by a populist view of immigration, the available studies emphasise the broadly positive long-term influence of migration on (European) host labour markets and welfare state.