Christof Roos (2013), The EU and Immigration Policies. Cracks in the Walls of Fortress Europe?

Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan

This book describes the legislative background of European integration since the 1970s, with particular attention paid to the first decade of the twenty-first century. The reader will learn about the process of European integration and its milestones. The content also concerns some important issues related to the future of the European Union’s migration policy. Professor Roos describes selected specific areas of integration in the subsequent sections, outlining the history of the process and a response to emerging challenges in a globalised world. The book consists of nine chapters, appendices, and an extensive bibliography. The detailed analysis of the legislative process is also enriched by data obtained during 19 in-depth interviews, conducted with EU officials, analysts and advisors. Although the conclusions from these discussions presented in the book are rather laconic, they provide the reader with a glimpse ‘behind the scenes’ of the processes of the development of European law that are discussed. In the first four chapters, the author presents the historical background of the process of European integration, the various regulations and the stakeholders involved in these processes – from their preferences to framing policies. In the next chapters, the process of the development of the five EU directives on the entry and residence of different categories of migrants is presented and discussed. This includes the areas of family reunification, long-term residency, migration of students and researchers, and labour migration. The chapters on the directives of family and student migration contain some interesting information about the various factors affecting the evolution of legislation in this area, as well as the impact of these types of migration policy of the European Union. As the author points out, The Commission found this situation to be unsatisfactory, leaving too much discretion to member states in deciding on a person’s family life, which is considered to be a major factor in people’s well being and successful integration into the country of immigration (p. 89). Roos evokes this complex process, and the results of the invitation of guestworkers, their mass influx, settlement and family reunification, as a final stage. Analysing the uncoordinated steps taken by particular European countries to try to solve this problem, he goes on to identify a further dilemma: full equal treatment could lead to welfare shopping, people moving around the EU in search of the best conditions (p. 116). The author also discusses extensively the controversy surrounding the arrangements for family reunification in the area of the EU. Another interesting point is the discussion on the regulation of migration of students and researchers. In this case, their integration into the local labour markets, as recognised by the following brief statement: international student mobility has been increasingly perceived by OECD states as not only culturally beneficial but also economically useful (p. 131). However, the discussion is not limited to the calculation of the economic calculus arguments seeking a simple answer to the question of long-term benefits and costs. The author tries to get to the specifics of the problem of modern mobility within the EU and to comment on the further consequences of this phenomenon. The last chapter summarises the book, with the author reflecting how the European policy can affect a sensitive area of immigration and how these regulations could contribute to building a common European background of agreement among the member states of the European Union. It should be noted that the book shows in detail not only the data for the next steps in the formation of European law, but also an in-depth analysis of the literature, including EU directives and regulations. However, at this point, this analysis would be even more interesting if a more profound insight was given into literature from any of the new EU countries. The book is, undoubtedly, an important source of data for academics of various fields investigating the legal aspects of the European integration, and tracking processes of formation and modification of the EU law.

As the book starts with a title question – is there a crack in the walls of Fortress Europe? – the classic book Fortress America. Gated Communities in the United States (Blakely, Snyder 1997) might come to mind. According to its authors, the transition in social life is a result of the ghettoisation of American suburbs in accordance with one of the three dominant motivations behind the development of gated communities: the search for prestige, security, or a particular lifestyle. With the construction of walls, fences, cameras and guards, it is possible to maintain a common lifestyle reserved for residents. The price for living in such a community is isolation from the external, real world. Isolation covers not only the place of residence, but also place of work, leisure activities or even places to spend one’s holidays, in all-inclusive resorts. The development of these forms of residence has been observed not only in the United States, but also in other parts of the world. In trying to answer the title question, one may ask whether Europe is, at least for outsiders, such a prosperous and safe place, offering its residents a standard already available in the rapidly enlarging cities in developing countries. Is there a real world behind the walls of Fortress Europe? The content of this book explores the answers to these questions. Europe, with its level of economic development and quality of life of residents, constantly attracts the attention of immigrants from poorer areas, not put off even by information about obstacles.

The author investigates not only a large number of conflicting interests, but also the chaos and abrasion of the competing national votes. Moreover, it appears that further regulations do not contribute to sorting out the chaos. Especially the 2004 enlargement of the European Community to the countries from Central and Eastern Europe significantly changed the scale and direction of current population flows within Europe. As many authors have noted, the walls are now formed not only around ‘fortress Europe’ now, but also within its borders, thus bringing more challenges for social cohesion, integration and daily lives of Europeans. The author limits his analysis to the area of Europe, only in a few cases addressing the specificity of European migration in relation to a broader, global context. Readers with a sociological background may also be a little disappointed with the limited reference to any reactions of public opinion to the analysed topics. The author does not provide any information about the reasons for anti-immigrant attitudes in European countries, treating them more as a result of the actions of politicians and political parties, and does not perceive such attitudes as a social response to the impact of migration observed in the immediate vicinity. One may also ask whether the book helps us to understand the specificity of European migration – the causes and effects, including long-term ones. It seems that the author leaves the reader with many open-ended questions.

Undoubtedly, this book should figure in the collections of people interested in contemporary social life, and experts on the subject, for whom it may serve as a source of information about the recent history of Europe. Let’s hope that future editions will be complemented with descriptions of transformations of Fortress Europe in 2010 and subsequent years, while also contributing to the understanding of the phenomenon of present-day migrations and processes of integration. The term ‘mobility’ – widely used in the book – seems to be the keyword to understanding the changing nature of contemporary migration and its impact on the transformation taking place on our continent. Meanwhile, the term ‘Harbour Europe’ (p. 142) is an alternative to the ‘fortress’ mentioned in the title, although the effects of migratory flows described in the book do not facilitate selection of the optimal strategy on the axis between the restrictive immigration policies and former limitations of migration.

Christof Roos treats migration as an opportunity rather than a threat to Europe – both for the economy and society – concluding: Apparently, EU policies are a mirror image of national preferences, which show that member states and the EU have abandoned their zero immigration approach. In fact, these EU immigration policies more and more define the cracks in the walls of Fortress Europe (p. 198). It is to be hoped that the future results will be optimistic.


Blakely E. J., Snyder M. G. (1997). Fortress America. Gated Communities in the United States. Washington, DC: Donnelley & Sons Co.

Jakub Isański
Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań