Migration and Transnationalism between Switzerland and Bulgaria: assessing social inequalities and regional disparities in the context of changing policies
Bulgaria, a member state of the European Union (EU) since 2007, has recently experienced various changes. Among others, it is now part of the EU regime of free movement of persons. Since 2009, Bulgaria is also part of the bilateral agreements between Switzerland and the EU. The project focuses on the resulting migration and analyses in detail, how social inequalities and regional disparities in Bulgaria as well as in Switzerland have an effect on migration flows.
Migration from Bulgaria to Switzerland has been increasing since Bulgaria joined the EU, even though the numbers remain low. Our research project explores, firstly, who migrates and why, thereby focusing in particular on social inequalities within and disparities between the different regions of origin in Bulgaria. We are interested in knowing whether economic differences or differences in the educational background as well as the effects of regional disparities influence the migration processes. In Switzerland, apart from differences between the linguistic regions and the federal system, there are also significant interregional disparities. Secondly, acknowledging for interregional disparities and social inequalities in country of origin as well as country of destination allows us to draw a precise picture of the migratory movements between Switzerland and Bulgaria. This leads us to the following questions: migration from where and settlement in which region in Switzerland, what kind of return migration to Bulgaria, e.g. circular forms or transnational practices? Finally, we aim at analysing these questions, in the context of changing policy conditions. The fact that Bulgaria joined the EU substantially modified the migration scenario between Bulgaria and Switzerland. As a result, it is necessary to acknowledge that migrants need to react to the stepwise easing conditions and continually develop new coping strategies.