Exploring the Diffusion of Migration Norms in Regional Integration Frameworks

This project, as a complement to the legal analysis, aims to understand what are the potential diffusion mechanisms of migration regulations in regional settings and to investigate the interplay between the creation of internal mobility regimes and the development of external migration policies in these regions.

By analysing the possible drivers of regional internal and external migration regimes, the project investigates three possible explanatory frameworks derived from the literature on policy transfer/diffusion and external governance respectively (Lavenex and Schimmelfennig, 2009).


The first hypothesis draws on political economy explanations and investigates the role of spill-overs from regional market integration as well as of domestic political interests in the respective countries in driving regional migration policies. In this vein, it analyses how far the regional liberalisation of labour mobility has become an intrinsic part of economic integration in different parts of the world, what its linkage with service trade is, and how the regional migration policy agenda responds to domestic interests in participating countries.


In contrast to these functionalist and rationalist explanations, studies of regional integration have also highlighted the role of less intentional factors in the diffusion of policy templates such as institutional isomorphism and emulation. Accordingly, the introduction of free movement norms or other migration policies would be less motivated by the functional needs of market integration and domestic interests than by the desire of regional actors to comply with international templates and with what they perceive to be the ‘appropriate’ policy in regional integration units.


Finally, regional policies can also be actively promoted by external actors. Therefore our third hypothesis will investigate the role of external actors and in particular the EU in shaping regional approaches to mobility and migration in Africa, Asia and Latin America.