News & Events

Cosmopolis Lunch Seminar with Anna Simola (University of Helsinki): Precarious transitions of young university-educated intra-EU migrants in Brussels

16 May 2019 , Geography Dept., room F4.66 (VUB - Pleinlaan 2, BE-1050 Brussels, Building F) from 12.00h to 13.30h


For many young Europeans mobility within the EU has become integral to ideas about successful transitions into ‘adulthood’ and professional careers. International mobility hubs, such as Brussels, continue to attract young people from all over Europe, but currently also qualified EU migrants may face in their destination countries labour market conditions and legal-bureaucratic realities that can stagnate their transitions for protracted periods of time and produce situations of financial precariousness and dependency. The study draws on ‘job-o-graphical’ interviews with young university-educated migrants from southern and northern Europe, who had moved to Brussels with hopes of advancing their careers, but subsequently experienced unemployment and worked under precarious contractual arrangements. Brussels can be considered as a critical case since, despite the wide range of work opportunities it offers, it is a highly competitive and difficult environment for EU migrants at an early-stage of their careers. Furthermore, following a recent European trend of hindering ‘unproductive’ EU migrants’ access to welfare entitlements, Belgium has made eligibility to long-term residence status increasingly conditional on foreign EU citizens’ ability to demonstrate stable employment. The study shows how young migrants’ experiences are shaped in the interplay between employers’ demands for flexibility and unpaid labour time, and the state policies and administrative practices producing insecure and ambiguous citizenship statuses. It claims for a need to consider theories on precarity – regarding both work and citizenship – to comprehend these migratory experiences. Understanding them is important, particularly because they may carry along material, professional, social, psychological and even physical scarring effects over time.

Bio speaker

Anna is a sociologist and doctoral researcher at the University of Helsinki. Currently she is also visiting researcher at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Cosmopolis). Her PhD project 'Precarious work and precarious citizenship: risks and uncertainty during migration of young highly educated EU citizens in the EU labour markets' examines young EU migrants’ trajectories in Brussels in the dual context of the spread of precarious employment and the changing social and legal norms regulating free movement in the EU.

People involved