Europäisierung der pflegerischen Versorgung: die Rolle von Vermittlungs- und Entsendeagenturen für migrantische Arbeitskräfte in Deutschland und Polen (EuroAgencyCare)
The Polish-German project "Euro Agency Care" is funded by the German Polish Research Foundation. It looks at cross border care migration between Poland and Germany resulting in so called live-in arrangements. This field is highly influenced by EU regulation and Single Market integration. Since EU Eastern enlargement, in Germany (as well as Austria and Switzerland), private brokering agencies placing Polish care workers in German households have spread considerably. They have become new players in the European care market and – first steps in this direction are observable – in European politics.
Europeanisation literature points to the fact that negative integration (market making) and legal uncertainties create opportunity structures inviting actors to pursue their interests. Our hypothesis is that also in the field of care migration regulation gaps of the multilevel system, legal uncertainty and a lack of European and national enforcement (capacity) have created new opportunity structures for market actors such as brokering agencies. While many of these agencies are prone to ‘strain’ the law, resulting at times in severe violations of minimum standards for decent work and human rights, certain agencies seem to have recognised the importance of 'quality standards' and legitimacy for their competitive advantage.
Particularly in Germany, associations of brokering agencies have emerged, working on the enhancement of the still rather unethical image of that sector, building on voluntary commitments to (both care and work) quality standards for their members. Interestingly, at least in parts of the sector, under-regulation by public authorities seems to be answered by self-regulation of the private market actors. These developments may be seen as an example of how transnational actors develop new regulatory mechanisms beyond the nation state. Understanding in-depth the functioning of such mechanisms of Europeanisation is the core aim of this project.
Europeanisation of Care Migration: a Polish-German Comparison
A country case comparison of Poland and Germany seems particularly fruitful in this field, as both countries are closely interrelated by transnational as well as European developments in the field of care migration. In both EU member states, the role of the family in care provision is strong. Due to societal and economic change, families in both countries tend to be overburdened with this task. In reaction to that, we observe that care migration has increased significantly. In concrete, (temporary) live-in arrangements with migrant care workers in private households have spread in order to compensate for the gaps left by public care systems and family care.
The directions of migration are thereby different in these two states. While Germany is the destination for a significant inflow of EU citizens, including Poles, a drain of Polish care workers moving abroad to Western member states contributes to a widening care gap in Poland. On the other hand, a decisive share of foreigners employed in the private realm of the Polish care sector comes from Ukraine, i.e. a third country. This constellation allows for an in-depth comparative analysis related to the different roles of immigrants, mainly women, in the private care sector in an Eastern and Western EU Member state, strongly interrelated to each other. As certain aspects of care migration (e.g. posting of workers, free movement of workers) are regulated by the EU while others (e.g. harmonised minimum standards in the care field) are omitted, EU rules interfere with such (trans-)national developments. How these EU rules influence the issue of care migration, i.e. how care migration is Europeanised, is at the heart of this project proposal.
Theoretical interest: Europeanisation by Negative Integration and Under-regulation
The issue of this project is not only one of closing an empirical blind spot, there is also a strong theoretical interest linked to the discussion on typologies and mechanisms of Europeanisation. By Europeanisation we understand horizontal transnational processes of mutual influence between EU member states, as well as mutual vertical influences between the EU and the national level. Earlier research points to the fact that negative integration (market making) and legal uncertainty create opportunity structures inviting domestic actors to pursue their private interests. Our hypothesis is that also in the field of care migration regulation gaps of the multi-level system, legal uncertainty and a lack of European and national enforcement (capacity) have created new opportunity structures for market actors such as the above mentioned employment agencies. Interestingly, at least in parts of the sector, under-regulation by public authorities seems to be answered by self-regulation of the private market actors. Understanding in-depth the functioning of such mechanisms of Europeanisation is a core aim of this proposal.
Research question and methods
Against this backdrop, the main research questions of this project read as follows: What is the current and potential role of employment agencies in the deployment of migration into the care sector, both within the EU and from third states? What different (types of) economic as well as political strategies of these agencies can we observe in the EU multi-level system?
Subsequent questions are:
- By using the example of employment agencies operating between Germany and Poland (but processing also care migrants from third countries, like Ukraine) we ask: How do Europeanisation processes take place in semi- or under-regulated markets of the EU-multilevel system? How do private market actors make use of (supra)national regulation and enforcement gaps, and how does this relate to issues of care quality? What is the role of legal straining and infringement, but also the potential of societal/entrepreneurial self-regulation?
- Referring to the explicit political aim of rising quality in long-term care provision in EU member states: What changes are necessary in public policies (including migration policy and social policy) of the two analysed states, and what conclusions can be drawn for the European level in order to better regulate and control processes of care migration?
To answer these questions, the project pursues a mixed methods approach combining quantitative (survey) data on employment agencies with qualitative expert interviews with selected representatives of the agencies and their associations, with decisive political stakeholders, as well as with other union or civil society representatives at the European and national level.
Impact of the project
An important impact of the project will consist in proposing policy solutions aiming to enhance the quality of long-term care provision in Europe. We are assuming that the role of employment agencies is important here, but operating under different rules than now. Besides obvious scientific values the project thus includes a significant practical component to be used by governments of member states, societal actors and EU institutions.
Leiber, S., Rossow, V., Matuszczyk, K. (2019): Self-regulation in a Europeanized grey market? The role of private brokerage and employment agencies for live-in migrant care work in Germany and Poland. Zeitschrift für Sozialreform (im Erscheinen).
Leiber, S.; Rossow, V. (2019): Private Brokerage Agencies for Live-in Migrant Care Work: Improving “Quality” in a Europeanized Grey Market between Germany and Poland? IMISCOE Spring Conference, 28.02.2019, Liège, Belgium.
Leiber, S. (2019): Typologie eines neuen Sorgemarktes: Private Vermittlungsunternehmen für live-in care work in Deutschland. Tagung „Zukunft der Sorge und der Sorgearbeit“, 14.02.2019, JKU Linz. Österreich.
Leiber, S.; Rossow, V. (2019): Intermediaries in a Heterogeneous “Grey” Market: A Typification of Brokering and Employment Agencies for Live-in Care Work in Poland and Germany. International Symposium "The Long-Term Care Crisis: Tapping Into Labour Resources Within and Across National Borders“, 11./12.03.2019, University of Mainz, Germany.
Matuszczyk, K. (2018): "Politicization mobility? The political discourse on posting of workers to care sector between Poland and Germany". presented at the 5th Interim Conference, Political Sociology Research Network 32 of the European Sociological Association, "Fragile Europe", 2nd - 3rd November 2018, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic.
Leiber, S.; Österle, A.; Rossow, V.; Frerk, T. (2018): "Intermediaries in a Europeanized Market: Brokering Agencies for Live-in Migrant Care Work in Austria and Germany“ presented at the International Conference on Global Dynamics of Social Policy, 25-26 October 2018, University of Bremen, Germany.
Rossow, V.; Leiber, S.; Österle A.; Frerk, T. (2018): "Intermediaries in a Europeanised Market: Brokering Agencies for Live-in Care Work in Austria and Germany" presented at the 5th International Conference on Evidence-based Policy in Long-term Care (ILPN), 10. - 12.09.2018, Economic University Vienna, Austria.
Matuszczyk, K. (2018): "Replacement for nurses? Posted workers from Poland and quality of care services in German households“ presented at the 19th International Nursing Ethics Conference – "Gender, Justice, and Care", 1st – 2nd September, 2018, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland.
Matuszczyk, K. (2018): "Who cares for mobility caregivers? Posted workers from Poland to care sector in Germany“ presented at the 4th International Conference Social Boundaries of Work. " Work, knowledge and power in contemporary capitalism", 25th October 2018, University of Gdańsk, Gdańsk, Poland.
Leiber, S.; Rossow, V. (2018): "Between Europeanization and Marketization: the role of brokering agencies for live-in migrant care work between Germany and Poland“ presented at the Global Conference on Economic Geography, July 24–28 2018, University of Cologne, Germany.
Duszczyk. M. (2018): „A forgotten sector? Posting of workers in the live-in care sector – the present day and the future“ presented at the international workshop ‘Transnational Social Citizenship in an Age of Uncertainty: Migration and Social Protection in Europe and Beyond’, 26-27 April 2018 Lübbenau Castle, Germany.
Leiber, S. (2018): "Europäisierung der pflegerischen Versorgung: Die Rolle von Vermittlungs- und Entsendeagenturen für migrantische Arbeitskräfte aus Deutschland und Polen“ presented during the EESC going-local meeting and Roundtable on "The Future of live-in care work in Europe”, 21 March 2018, Berlin, Germany.
Leiber, S.; Rossow, V. (2017): "Transnationally Acting Brokering Agencies: Improving Working Conditions for Live-in Migrant Care Workers in a Europeanised Welfare Market?“ Paper presented at the 3rd Transforming Care Conference, June 26-28. Milan, Italy.