This working paper examines the impact of EU membership on migration in Europe. It takes up and extends the analyses of Head & Mayer (2021) on migration frictions. It confirms their results but suggests that the liberalisation they estimate in the 1960s needs to be qualified, and that the subsequent stagnation may be due to a composition effect. A contingency analysis shows that a country's entry into the EU coincides well with greater openness to migrants.

The Working Papers series presents work carried out within DG Treasury, distributed with the aim of enlightening and stimulating public debate. The authors are solely responsible for their work.


This working paper looks at the effect of joining the European Union on openness to migrants, both European and non-European. It replicates and extends Head & Mayer's (2021) gravity model-based analyses of barriers to migration within European countries. Using an event analysis, we show in addition that EU membership is responsible for a reduction in barriers to migration, of over 25% compared to their level 5 years prior to EU entry, for EU migrants.