Protecting Irregular Migrants in Europe: Institutions, Interests and Policies (PRIME)

There is little knowledge on how and why the conditions of irregular migrants vary so dramatically across Europe. Existing studies do, however, indicate that institutional landscapes of countries and economic sectors play a key role. Generating a more profound understanding of these institutional variations, and the interests with which they are associated, is therefore a critical precondition for effective national and EU policies on irregular migrants. PRIME will provide a new comparative institutional approach to analysing the conditions and vulnerabilities of irregular migrants in this context.

The researchers in this project carry out large-scale surveys, structured policy analysis, and qualitative interviews with irregular migrants, employers, policy actors, interest groups and voters across eight European countries. This combination of methods and perspectives is informed by an understanding of ‘irregularity’ as a complex and gendered status. PRIME will generate new analysis on how migrants’ outcomes and experiences are shaped by national socio-economic institutions (including national labour market regulations and welfare institutions), sectoral policies, and the actions and interests of voters.

The project will also examine the inevitable goal conflicts that arise in policy-making toward irregular migrants, and propose strategies for how they may be best managed across different institutional settings to enable more effective policy-making that benefits both migrants and host communities. To engage its key target groups (national and EU policy actors, interest groups, and the scientific community), PRIME will create a ‘PRIME-Hub’ for joint knowledge creation and exchange which will extend beyond the project life-time. In this way PRIME will go beyond simple ‘best-practice’ models by providing evidence on context-sensitive strategies and policy tools as a basis for achievable and sustainable policy-making on irregular migrants.

Our team at Uppsala University is involved in both the qualitative and the quantitative part of PRIME. We are studying attitudes to irregular migration among voters with help of survey experiments, collect data on the social and economic rights of irregular migrants across Member States of the European Union and conduct qualitative interviews with irregular migrants, employers, policy actors and interest groups in Sweden.

Principal Investigator: Martin Ruhs, European University Institute

Co-leader at Uppsala University: Joakim Palme

Period: 2023–2026

Funding: 2 467 708 € from the European Commission (Horizon Europe)


Oleksandr Kyselov

Research Assistant at Department of Government, Technical and Administrative Staff


Find out more about PRIME

PRIME Official Website: TBA

Learn more about our EU-Horizon partner projects: DignityFirm, i-CLAIM, and MIrreM

Last modified: 2023-08-31