Policy background

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.


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’, 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.

Measuring migrant integration

The Stockholm Programme for the period 2010–14 embraced the development of core indicators for a limited number of relevant policy areas (e.g. employment, education and social inclusion) for the monitoring of the results of integration policies. It is also a step forward to improve data comparability among Member States.

The 2010 European Ministerial Conference on Integration which took place in Zaragoza resulted in the Zaragoza Declaration, adopted in April 2010 by the EU Ministers responsible for immigrant integration issues. It was approved during the Justice and Home Affairs Council on 3-4 June 2010.

The Zaragoza Declaration called upon the Commission to undertake a pilot study to examine proposals for common integration indicators and to report on the availability and quality of the data from previously agreed harmonised sources necessary for the calculation of these indicators. In June 2010 the ministers agreed "to promote the launching of a pilot project with a view to the evaluation of integration policies, including examining the indicators and analysing the significance of the defined indicators taking into account the national contexts, the background of diverse migrant populations and different migration and integration policies of the Member States, and reporting on the availability and quality of the data from agreed harmonised sources necessary for the calculation of these indicators".

The proposals in the pilot study were further examined, developed and elaborated in a project which delivered the recently published report ‘Using EU indicators of immigrant integration’. The existing and proposed indicators are largely based on this report.