Even if the establishment of the right to free movement, employment and settlement across the European Union for Greek citizens in 1988 allowed for unrestricted mobility, this never took the form of a major outmigration. Until recently, Greeks were notably registered among the least mobile Europeans.
However, in the context and conjuncture of the crisis affecting Greece, this seems to be gradually changing. The combined effects of recession, extreme austerity, and a generalized mistrust towards institutions and disillusionment from the political system have redefined mobility intentions in Greece. Despite the previously recorded skepticism, many Greeks were forced by the circumstances to change their views on mobility in a very short time span.
The Greek crisis driven emigration
Approximately 400,000 Greek citizens appear to have left Greece in the past 7 years heading to various destinations primarily in Northern and Western Europe. But the crisis does not only feed the resurgence of Greek emigration in terms of volume, but also brings qualitative changes. A major transformation seems to be underway: migration is now more a matter of need rather than one of choice. Even though the motivations of “crisis” migrants are not limited to mere economic need but are rather framed in a wider context of lack of prospects in the country, as well as positive evaluations of life and work abroad, worsening conditions in the Greek labour market and concerns about employment and income are primary motives for many.
Despite the fact that there is extended media coverage of this new emigration, little is known about the current intensification of emigration from Greece and its characteristics, as well as the experiences of the country’s new “crisis migrants”. Building on and expanding the previous work done in the context of the EUMIGRE project our research aims to cover this research gap.
Our focus is currently on the UK case using both survey data and data from qualitative research. We are currently conducting an extensive online survey among the Greeks in the UK which complements and enriches available data from the EUMIGRE surveys. Moreover, in-depth narrative interviews with new migrants of different mobility and educational trajectories are being conducted in wider London and Oxford. Through the survey and the interviews we aim to explore who is emigrating, the reasons underling migration decisions as well as the multiplicity of individual pathways abroad. Moreover, we explore feelings of belongingness, the development of transnational ties, the flow of remittances, and the impact of emigration on families and gender relations, and the future plans of the migrants.