Important legal notice
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“To deepen understanding and awareness of undocumented worker migration flows and to present clear choices to policy-makers.”

The problem

There is little reliable information about illegal migration and the flow of undocumented workers into the EU. Much of the evidence is anecdotal and reflects different definitions of migrant and refugee labour, making comparisons across the EU difficult. There is also little evidence on the impact of migrant workers on national labour markets, although in some EU countries undocumented workers are estimated to account for almost 30% of GDP. These workers are usually hired on a temporary basis and under inferior terms and conditions, sometimes being trafficked into forced labour.

UWT  The role of undocumented workers


UWT will examine the factors underlying migration and refugee flows into the EU labour market, including illegal immigration and trafficking in human beings

The project will:

  • Provide more reliable data on the levels, sources and causes of undocumented worker migration and its impact on EU labour markets
  • Examine the relationship between the presence of ‘informal’ or ‘shadow’ industry labour markets and migration flows
  • Test theories concerning human capital and social capital in relation to migration; and explore the particular consequences of migration for women workers, including trafficked workers

Contribution to policy development:

  • UWT will provide comparative data on the effect of different policy regimes on the undocumented workforce, and the overall impact of undocumented workers on competitiveness and society in general.
  • It will collect data on the extent to which different legislative regimes may combat or deepen vulnerability and exploitation.
  • The project will present clear options to policy-makers to assist their planning for the future.

Project deliverables

  • Seven country reports based on data including results of in-depth anonymous interviews with migrant and refugee workers – May 2007
  • Five thematic reports on different aspects of the problem – August 2008-February 2009
  • Seven national workshops with stakeholders and policymakers – December 2008
  • International conference to present results to stakeholders and academic peers – March 2009
  • Published results in academic papers, articles and a book – March 2009


  • Project website and discussion forum – from May 2007
  • Quarterly electronic newsletter – June 2007
  • Workshops and final conference, involving policy-makers, social partners and other stakeholders – December 2008-March 2009
  • Close contact with established Member State and EU migrant networks – as appropriate
  • Publication of results in academic papers, articles and a book – submission by March 2009

Technical information

Project acronym: UWT
Project’s official full title: Undocumented Worker Transitions: Compiling evidence concerning the boundaries and processes of change in the status and work of undocumented workers in Europe
Research priority: Comparative research of factors underlying migration and refugee flows, including illegal immigration and trafficking in human beings
Specific webpage: not available
Proposal/contract no: 044272
Start date: 1 March 2007
Kick off meeting: May 2007
Completion date: 28 February 2009
European Commission scientific officer: Giulia Amaducci,

Name: Working Lives Research Institute, London Metropolitan University
Abbreviated name: WLRI
London Metropolitan University,
31 Jewry St,
London EC3N 2EY
Country: United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0)20 7320 1382
Fax: +44 (0)20 7320 3032


Name: Forschungs- und Beratungsstelle Arbeitswelt
Abbreviated name: FORBA
Country: Austria

Name: Université Libre de Bruxelles
Abbreviated name: ULB
Country: Belgium

Name: International Centre for Minority Studies and Intercultural Relations
Abbreviated name: IMIR
Country: Bulgaria

Name: Roskilde University
Abbreviated name: RUC
Country: Denmark

Name: University of Venice Ca’ Foscari, Laboratory of Research on Immigration and Social Transformations
Abbreviated name: UNIVE
Country: Italy

Name: Gabinet d’Estudis Socials
Abbreviated name: GES
Country: Spain