France fared relatively well at the start of the current economic crisis, but has experienced low economic growth and high unemployment rates in the recent years. As a result it has been a less popular destination with Southern Europeans and EU migrants in general in search of economic opportunities. Although their numbers have increased and represent a growing proportion of recent flows to France, they remain low compared to numbers observed in Germany and the UK. Despite this statistical reality, EU mobility and more generally the role of the EU in economic and social policy have been at the forefront of debates in France since the start of the 2000s, thus well before the start of the crisis. These debates have focused on two populations – the Roma and posted workers – with both groups being portrayed as threats to the French welfare state. Although posted workers are not migrants, according to official EU definitions, their characteristics and experiences are similar to other groups of temporary migrant workers. Southern Europeans account for an increasing number of posted workers, and although they have not been the primary nationalities targeted in discussions concerning this issue, the debates and policy changes introduced in the recent years concern them as well. Moreover, we argue that the focusing of political debates on other populations in France has contributed to the relative invisibility of Southern European immigrants in this country.
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