Academic journal article Migration Letters

Determining Turkish Migration to Austria the Role of Migration Policy

Academic journal article Migration Letters

Determining Turkish Migration to Austria the Role of Migration Policy

Article excerpt

Abstract

Migration from Turkey to Austria started as labour migration and has diversified over time. National and transnational factors have shaped migration policy and the migration process over the last fifty years. In different phases, the government has used a mix of instruments to control migration flows. In this paper I analyse the role of those factors which worked against restrictive tendencies on the national level and discuss the relevance of transnational factors such as the Association Agreement with Turkey and European Union directives, migrant networks and dynamics in the emigrant state in explaining migration outcomes.

Keywords: Migration policy; Austria; Turkish migration; EU; post-national rights.

Introduction

Migration from Turkey to Austria started as "guestworker" labor migration in the 1960s. The workers were supposed to circulate according to a rotation principle, stay only temporarily, and work under limited economic and social rights. Soon, however, there were signs of permanent migration from Turkey to Austria, leading to a mixed form of temporary and permanent migration in which the differences between labour and family migration began to blur. How can we explain Turkish migration to Austria and its shifting dynamics from a historical perspective?

Turkish migration to Austria offers an interesting case for a discussion of migration policy outcomes, since Austria has been a good example of a country with restrictive policies in European comparison. In the Migrant Integration Policy Index (MIPEX), which measures the relative openness of European countries to migrants, Austria, second-last only to highly restrictive Denmark, scores a very low 41 points for its family reunion policies, compared to the EU15 average of 61. In general in the MIPEX index, Austria yields a low score, which makes the country an extreme case for analysis. Besides, while migration from Turkey today is regulated under the general policies regarding third-country nationals (TCNs), Turkish citizens get preferential treatment as a result of the Association Agreement with the EU, although Austria was slow in adapting to the EU requirements.

Government policies, the shift from the social partnership to the interior minister, and the changing constellations of interest groups and political parties have all been discussed as the main factors which play a major role in determining migration policy in Austria (Kraler, 2010). However, migration policies were continuously challenged by the interventions of the Austrian Constitutional Court, the European Court of Human Rights and the European Court of Justice (Bauböck and Perchinig, 2006). Besides, factors at the meso level - such as family and community networks - and issues connected to economic and political developments in Turkey shaped migration policy outcomes. In this paper, I examine the interaction of these factors in shaping Turkish migration to Austria. After discussing in more detail the various factors that have been identified as influencing migration processes in previous studies, I focus on the factors which cannot be explained on the national level and discuss the relevance of the transnational factors, migrant networks and dynamics in the emigrant state for explaining the migration outcomes. My aim is to examine the interaction of these factors in shaping Turkish migration to Austria and in limiting the effect of government policies.

Theoretical considerations

Migration policy determines which groups are allowed to enter a country legally, and under which conditions. Norms, criteria and regulations differ according to the distinction between labour migration, family-related migration and asylum. The literature on migration policy offers different models which seek to explain the gap between policy aims and the resulting migration patterns. One significant question which arises is whether the government has the ability and the will to control migration. …

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