From the Editor

  • Published in:
    Central and Eastern European Migration Review, Vol. 1, No. 1, 2012, pp. 5-9
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Dear Reader,

We are delighted to introduce to you Central and Eastern European Migration Review (CEEMR) – the first online, multidisciplinary journal devoted specifically to the lively migratory processes of Central and Eastern Europe. In our view, the need for such a journal has been materialising for some time. The growing research output regarding international mobility from and to this region as well as integration patterns of CEE coun-tries’ citizens in destination countries, in particular in the European Union, has created a need for an academ-ic forum on this topic. We believe that CEEMR can effectively respond to this need.

The mission of CEEMR is to foster an academic discussion on scholarly works and research pertaining to migration within, into and out of the CEE region. From a comparative perspective, the CEEMR will address a broad range of topics related to international migration including determinants, mechanisms and conse-quences of international migration, as well as migration policies, migrants’ integration and ethnic relations. CEEMR will publish original, scholarly case-studies of CEE countries as well as works taking broader, in-ternational and transnational perspectives to examine migratory processes relevant to CEE countries and their citizens, ethnic minorities, institutions, territories, and policies.

The origins of the term Central and Eastern Europe can be traced to the Enlightenment era, when the term ‘Eastern Europe’ was used to denote the part of Europe that differed from ‘civilized’ Western Europe. In the migration context, the East-West divide in Europe has been addressed in a number of scholarly works, espe-cially in the period preceding eastward enlargement of the European Union (cf. Górny, Ruspini 2004). In this context, the ‘East’ usually denotes all post-communist countries forming a region of Central and Eastern Europe, but some authors tend to make a distinction between Eastern Europe – the Commonwealth of Inde-pendent States – and Central Europe, comprising the Baltic States, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and the former Yugoslav countries. It can be, however, argued that, at least in the context of migration studies, the broader concept of Central and Eastern Europe has been more frequently used (cf. Okólski 2004). This conceptualisation of the CEE region is shared by the Central and Eastern Eu-ropean Migration Review.

Published papers on the unique role of Central and Eastern Europe in the European migration system date 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. Economic and political transitions then under-way in most post-communist countries set up a novel context of international mobility from, to and within the region. Different speeds and characters of transition of centralised communist economies into market economies resulted in the formation of several magnets within the region - particularly the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland - which attracted the most immigrants from other CEE countries, especially from the ex-USSR.

In fact, in the 1990s and at the beginning of the 21st century, an overwhelming proportion of the migration of CEE countries’ citizens was contained within the CEE region itself. According to Marek Okólski (2004; 2010), factors responsible for emergence of a specific migration space in Central and Eastern Europe include:

  • anticipatory controls put in place in member countries of the Schengen agreement area accompanied by the very existence of CEE’s magnets, namely the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland (and a few other, smaller countries);
  • cost-benefit calculations of individual migrants, which often suggested that the potentially higher economic benefits associated with travelling to the West vis-à-vis Central and Eastern Europe were insufficient to offset the related expenses, inconveniences and risks;
  • the rapid development of migration networks in Central and Eastern Europe and migrants’ familiarity with a common post-communist reality.

Political and economic transition in CEE countries was accompanied by the integrating of this part of Europe with the European Union. For some CEE countries, preparations for the Union’s eastward enlargement started as early as the mid-1990s. Nevertheless, contrary to common predictions of that time, a mass exodus from the CEE region to Western Europe did not materialise until the eastward European Union enlargements finally took place in 2004 and 2007. Only then, upon acquisition of the freedom of movement and work in (initially some) member states, citizens of the new Union members from the CEE region – Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia - started to migrate in large numbers to Western Europe. However, the intensity of these movements differed across accession countries, with Poland and Romania sending the highest numbers of migrants.

It is clear that Central and Eastern Europe’s overall geopolitical role and the place in the European migration system have changed as a consequence of the accession of 10 countries from its Central part to the European Union. As Corrado Bonifazi formulated it, (2008: 125) ‘The entry of most of the previously ‘planned economies’ into the EU has effectively expanded a migration system previously centred on Western European countries [as destinations], making it more sufficient than in the past. The borders of the system moved eastwards so that the countries of the former CIS now form a buffer zone’.

The political context of intra-CEE movements was also changed by the eastward EU enlargements. Some of these movements (e.g. migration of Slovaks to the Czech Republic) became an internal mobility within the European Union, whereas others, like the migration of Ukrainians to Poland, started to represent migration of third-country nationals into the European Union. Consequently, intensification of intra-Union mobility and immigration of third-country nationals to the Union – citizens of Belarus, Moldova, Russia and Ukraine – have been observed, with both types of movements involving CEE citizens.

Nevertheless, it can be argued that, notwithstanding dynamic political changes that took place during the most recent decades in Central and Eastern Europe, the region remains a distinct area with respect to migration realities, when confronted with the Western and Southern models of European migration (cf. Arango, 2012). In part, this stems from historically-grounded economic, political and cultural links among CEE countries – including those currently within and outside the European Union. The role of migration-related factors observed first in the 1990s should be acknowledged as well. These factors encompass dense intra-CEE migrant networks and relatively high costs of migration to the more distant Western Europe compared to migration to another, closer CEE country.

From a migration perspective, Central and Eastern Europe constitutes a unique and fascinating object of research due to the variety of novel forms of international mobility occurring for the first time in CEE countries. Though the paradigm of transmigration is no longer novel, it can be argued that the recent mobility of Central and Eastern Europeans contributed to its extensions and diversifications. Terms like ‘false tourism’, ‘incomplete migration’, ‘migrancy’, ‘settled in mobility’, ‘suspended emigration’, ‘fluid mobility’ and others were designed to capture nuances of the temporariness of CEE migrants and migrations. In this respect, migrations of Poles, Romanians and Ukrainians, due to their intensity and concentration in time and space, constitute unique natural experiments that deserve in-depth examination now and in the future.

The character of the CEE experience with immigration constitutes another aspect that distinguishes the region from the rest of Europe despite some important differences existing among CEE receiving states (cf. Grabowska-Lusińska, Drbohlav, Hars 2011). Systematic inflow of foreigners to CEE countries is a relatively recent phenomenon with a prevalence of temporary (circular) mobility constituting its distinctive feature. At the same time, the volume of migrants living in CEE countries is much lower than numbers of foreigners residing in the South and West of Europe. Some authors even call some CEE countries ‘future’ immigration countries at an ‘embryonic’ phase of transition from countries of emigration to ones of immigration, in contrast to the ‘new’ immigration countries in Southern Europe and the ‘old’ immigration countries in Western Europe (cf. Okólski 2012). Consequently, issues of concern and interest that relate to immigration in CEE countries encompass: managing and regulating flows, designing an adequate immigration policy as well as forming an integration policy and its monitoring. With few exceptions, the CEE countries also face a need to re-design their national registries and statistics to encapsulate foreign immigrants. In contrast, immigration-related problems being discussed in the context of other parts of Europe, like the co-existence of migrant minorities and native majorities, interethnic relations and the integration of second- and third-generation immigrants, are still exotic and marginal issues in the CEE countries.

Moreover, unlike Western Europe, the CEE region is primarily a sending area for migrants heading to the West – be it further afield in Europe or overseas. The sending-country perspective is thus an important approach in examining the international mobility underway in the CEE region. Meanwhile, as a consequence of eastward enlargements of the European Union, sending countries of Central and Eastern Europe constitute an important element of intra-European mobility processes. Paving the way for research bearing a sending-country perspective constitutes an important challenge for researchers working on migratory processes pertaining to Central and Eastern Europe.

Another CEE-related element of increasing significance in the European migration system is the visibility of Polish, Romanian, Ukrainian and other migrant minorities, mainly as a consequence of their post-accession mobility. These groups have grown in size for almost a decade and have become newly present in a number of places of Western and Southern Europe. This phenomenon, and its rapidity, has reshaped inter-ethnic relations and attitudes towards foreigners and migration in general in European destination countries.

It can be thus argued that the CEE region, as a region comprising both countries that accessed the European Union in the first decade of the 21st century and non-member states to the Union’s South and East, constitutes an important migrant-sending area. At the same time, the CEE does represent a destination for certain categories of migrants, who typically follow one of the novel forms of temporary mobility observed in migration from and to the region. However, while claiming that Central and Eastern Europe deserves to be perceived as a distinct migration space with some specific migratory issues and phenomena, it should be also acknowledged that migratory links between CEE and other European and non-European countries are numerous and multifaceted. Countries of the region are parts of various migration systems that cross the borders of the European Union, sometimes reaching the Far East.

In light of the above, the role of newly launched Central and Eastern European Migration Review is two-fold. On the one hand, it is meant to deepen understanding of the specificity of migratory processes in Central and Eastern Europe by addressing problems that are of pivotal importance for the region. Among them, three broad themes can be distinguished: 1) developing a sending-country perspective in migration studies in the European context; 2) examination of phenomena relating to immigration that have just recently begun growing in CEE countries but differently than how analogous processes took place in ‘old’ countries of immigration and 3) uncovering mechanisms governing temporary and fluid forms of mobility observed in migration to and from the CEE region.

On the other hand, the goal of CEEMR is to broaden the audience for migration studies on movements of CEE nationals or migratory processes in Central and Eastern Europe, under the conviction that their conclusions should be included in the wider academic discussion on European and global migration. It is of particular importance in the light of the fact that citizenry of a number of CEE countries have become an intrinsic element of the European Union migration reality and have formed sizeable migrant communities virtually throughout the Union. Meanwhile, we are aware that the visibility of scholarly research devoted to migratory processes to and from CEE as well as to the integration of CEE migrants in destination countries is not satisfactory. This lack applies especially to works conducted in the important sending area of the former Soviet Union, but also in other CEE countries. We believe that Central and Eastern European Migration Review can be a journal where such works will become accessible to a wider academic audience.

Central and Eastern European Migration Review will be published by the Centre of Migration Research, University of Warsaw as an online, open-access journal. It will appear twice a year, but we intend to increase its frequency in the future. Materials presented in the journal will include scientific articles, reviews and research notes. Priority will be given to works addressing the CEE region perspective and comparative analyses. However, studies based on original empirical data devoted only to some country-cases also befit the scope of the journal. The language of the contributions will preferably be English but, in the ‘running-in’ period of the journal, works submitted in Polish may also be accepted. Before publication, each submitted paper will be subject to a double-blind peer review by two independent experts. We invite economists, sociologists, demographers, political scientists, psychologists, historians and anthropologists to submit their works.


Agata Górny
Centre of Migration Research
University of Warsaw


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Bonifazi C. (2008). Evolution of regional patterns of international migration in Europe, in: C. Bonifazi, M. Okólski, J. Schoorl, P. Simon (eds), International Migration in Europe. New Trends and New Meth-ods of Analysis, pp. 107-128. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.

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