Marriage migration from Emirdag to Brussels (KBF)

On the basis of a field study, The King Baudouin Foundation examined in more detail the marriage migration from Emirdag to Brussels with a view to identify profiles, aspirations and motivations of the migrants involved.


For several years now, the King Baudouin Foundation is active on family reunification related issues. As part of this project, the Foundation has been invited to participate in a field study to Emirdağ by Emir Kir, Minister for Social Action, Family and International Relations at the French Community Commission (COCOF) in Brussels. The objective was to better understand the current situation in Emirdağ on the one hand, and the migration from Emirdağ towards Brussels, on the other hand.

Study Content:

Source: King Daudouin Foundation website

Migration from the small town of Emirdağ in Central Turkey to Belgium is a phenomenon which has existed for many decades. It is exemplary for the migration from Turkey to Europe. Since the ban on labour migration in 1974, family reunification became one of the most important ways for Turkish migrants to enter Belgium (and Europe).

Today, more people originating from Emirdağ live in Belgium and other EU Member States than in the Emirdağ region itself. While Turkey has seen a spectacular economic boom in the last years, the region of Emirdağ could not participate fully in this development yet. Migrating to Europe remains therefore even today a relevant option for people seeking to have a better life. At the same time, Belgo-Turkish families are still attached to their home town. Even though being in Belgium in the second or third generations many families look for a spouse in Emirdağ. Figures from Gent show that 49% of all marriages of Turkish Gentenaars in 2008 were still with migrants from Turkey (mainly Emirdağ). However, statistics also show that this is a decreasing phenomenon.

The Foundation commissioned the research team of Professor Christiane Timmerman from University of Antwerp to prepare this study to look more in detail into marriage migration from Emirdağ to Brussels. The aim of the study was to know more about the profile, aspirations and motivation of marriage migrants, to understand better the marriage migration patterns and to see how marriage migrants prepare themselves. This study was set-up as an action research (recherche-action) to investigate if there is a need for action, such as better informing, advising or helping marriage migrants.

The results give a picture of what marriage migration really means to the involved people analysed from the view point of various stakeholder groups: young people in Emirdağ, freshly wed marriage migrants waiting for their departure to Belgium, marriage migrants in Brussels, parents in Emirdağ and Brussels and experts in the field. The study shows hopes and fears, expectations and disappointments. It shows that few migrants prepare themselves for their new life and are consequently little informed about Belgium, its laws, citizens’ rights and obligations. Moreover, it becomes clear that marriage migrants are torn between the image of Belgo-Turks who show their wealth during the summer holiday in Emirdağ and news about divorces and economic and social problems of Turkish migrants in Belgium received through social networks. The study shows that marriage migrants tend to ignore stories which do not fit their perception and dreams leading to subsequent problems when arriving in Belgium.

The study was co-financed by the Ministry for Social Action, Family and International Relations of the French Community Commission (COCOF) in Brussels.

Publication Date:
Wed 02 Jan 2013
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