Background - Migrant integration


Where do these data come from and what do they measure?

Eurostat's statistics on migrant integration come mainly from the EU Labour Force Survey (EU-LFS) and the EU Statistics on Income and Living Conditions Survey (EU-SILC), and are complemented by administrative data sources such as population registers, registers of foreigners, and registers of residence or work permits.

Migrants' integration is measured in terms of employment, health, education, social inclusion and active citizenship in the hosting country.

Why are these statistics important?

The continued development and integration of the European migration policy remains a key priority of the European Commission in order to meet the challenges and harness the opportunities which migration represents globally. The integration of third-country nationals legally living in the EU Member States has gained increasing importance on the European agenda in recent years as outlined in the table below. 


The origins of the European policy on migrant integration can be traced back to the Tampere Programme (1999) focusing, among other issues, on the closely related topic of asylum and migration.


In 2002, following a request from the Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) Council to establish National Contact Points on Integration, the European Council of June 2003 invited the European Commission to publish annual reports on migration and integration.


The Brussels European Council conclusions of November 2004 on The Hague Programme and the Thessaloniki European Council conclusions of June 2003 called upon the importance to establish ‘Common basic principles’ for the immigrant integration policy.


The European Commission adopted the Communication ‘A common agenda for integration — Framework for the integration of third-country nationals in the European Union’ (COM(2005) 389 final) with the aim of providing its first response to the European Council’s request of establishing a coherent European framework for integration. The cornerstones of the framework are proposals for concrete measures with a view of putting in place the ‘Common basic principles’ through a series of supportive EU mechanisms.


The Commission Communication of 3 March 2010 entitled ‘Europe 2020, a strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth’ emphasised the need for establishing a new agenda for migrant integration in order to enable them to take full advantage of their potential.


In July 2011, the Commission proposed a ‘European agenda for the integration of third-country nationals’, covering the period 2011-2015, focusing on actions to increase economic, social, cultural and political participation by migrants and emphasising local action. This new agenda highlights challenges that need to be addressed if the EU is willing to fully benefit from the potential offered by migration and the value of diversity. It also explores the role of countries of origin in the integration process. A Commission Staff Working Paper (SEC(2011)957) is annexed to the Communication and contains a list of EU initiatives supporting the integration of third-country nationals.


In June 2016, the European Commission has adopted an ‘Action Plan on the integration of third-country nationals’. The Action Plan provides a comprehensive framework to support Member States' efforts in developing and strengthening their integration policies, and describes the concrete measures the Commission will implement in this regard.