Exploitation in the Agri-Food Sector in Europe

A Comparative Analysis of the Impact of Migration and Labour Regimes in Producing Migrants’ Vulnerabilities

In: European Journal of Migration and Law
Letizia Palumbo Senior Research Fellow, Department of Philosophy and Cultural Heritage, Ca’ Foscari University of Venice Venice Italy

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Although political attention has been devoted to the exploitation of migrant farmworkers in Southern Europe, migrant workers also experience exploitive practices in the agri-food systems of Northern EU countries. Building on critical studies on vulnerability and exploitation and on migration and labour regimes, and drawing on the papers in this Special Issue of EJML, this article critically compares labour migration policies and models for labour market regulations in Northern and Southern European countries (specifically Italy, Spain, Sweden, Germany and the Netherlands), underlining how policies and legislation on migration and labour mobility have contributed to creating specific situational vulnerabilities – especially with respect to the interplay of legal status, nationality and gender – which are exploited within agri-food systems. While there have been relevant national initiatives aimed at addressing the rights of migrant farmworkers during the pandemic, in most of the examined European countries these have mainly consisted of short-term and reparative measures which fail to address the root causes of vulnerabilities to exploitation.

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