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For integration to work, we need to interact

Experts analysed results of an EU-wide survey on attitudes to integration
Experts analysed results of an EU-wide survey on attitudes to integration
Feb 21 2020

The more immigrant and host communities interact, the more positively integration is perceived - according to a new joint study from the European Commission’s Knowledge Centre on Migration and Demography (KCMD), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the Migration Policy Centre (MPC).

The report is the first in-depth analysis of perceptions of Europeans on integration, based on responses to a Special Eurobarometer survey on ‘Integration of immigrants in the European Union’ published in April 2018.

Is there consensus among Europeans on integration of immigrants?

Building on an earlier Eurobarometer report, this study analyses responses to survey questions after taking into account individual characteristics such as age, gender, country of birth, education, place of living, and labour market status.  

Social integration (such as speaking the language or accepting a society’s values and norms) and contributing to the welfare system by paying taxes are seen by Europeans as the most important factors in integration.

There is somewhat less consensus on the barriers to integration and possible policy responses.

For instance, when considering whether immigrants are doing enough to integrate, there was a wide variation in responses, not only between countries but also between different groups of respondents within countries.

In terms of policy preferences on integration, the report finds variation among respondents along political lines.

Making integration measures mandatory ranks highly on average, but with relatively large variation across countries.

There is consensus about the importance of language courses and post-arrival integration measures such as supporting immigrants to find a job and fostering interaction between members of the host society and newcomers.

What shapes the public perception of integration?

Views on immigration and views on integration are closely related.

Countries where the population perceive integration as successful also tend to see immigration as an opportunity.

Individuals who consider themselves to be informed on migration issues tend to have positive views of both immigration and integration.

When it comes to actual knowledge, citizens who overestimate the number of immigrants in the country tend to have more negative attitudes towards migration.

Respondents who have frequent contact with immigrants tend to perceive immigrants’ integration as successful.

The relationship between interactions with immigrants and attitudes towards immigration in general is less clear-cut.

Background

Immigrant integration is high on the policy agenda across EU countries.

However, how EU citizens view integration is an under-studied area. This report aims to fill the gap.

This report shows that when asked about whether immigrants have successfully integrated at the local level, the majority of Europeans answer positively.

In other words, the local perception of integration of immigrants is frequently positive.

Frequent contact with immigrants is associated with positive perception of their integration.

This suggests that, as most European countries are becoming more diverse, and people interact with immigrants more frequently, the perception of local integration is likely to become gradually more positive in the future.