Regional Integration and Free Movement across borders: the role of social policy in enabling and preventing access to social entitlements by cross border movers. Europe and Southern Africa compared.

  • 2013•12•15

    Sonja Nita and Bob Deacon

    The social policies of countries are central to the project of regional social integration because they are part of narratives that declare who is to be regarded as a full member of a society towards whom others have obligations. This paper addresses the relationship between social, migration and free movement policies and regional integration using the European Union and Southern Africa (SADC) as examples. It considers the part that access to social security, social assistance, health and education services play in facilitating free movement within regions. It distinguishes between the movements of and social rights entitlements of citizens, migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers. The paper shows that in the EU, the reality of free movement for all categories of movers is substantially curtailed by problems with the portability of and access to some social benefits. Access to a safety net of social assistance is often missing in both regions for some movers. Given the symbolic nature of the “no recourse to public funds” mantra of national social policies in both regions, the paper concludes that a policy and funding response at the regional or even global level is required if regional social integration is to be enhanced through social policy.

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