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The integration of migrants from outside the EU

The European Court of Auditors (ECA) has identified 7 key challenges to the integration of non-EU migrants into European societies, as well as actions needed to address them. Identified challenges and actions are set out in this Briefing Paper on EU action to support the integration of those living legally in the EU without EU citizenship. The main challenges are:

Delays: The earlier integration starts, the more likely it is to be successful. But the rules applied to migrants are not the same in all Member States, a factor leading migrants to move between countries and delaying the start of the integration process. In addition, it sometimes takes a long time to process applications.

Discrimination: Despite EU legislation promoting equal rights and non-discrimination, immigration by people from outside the EU continues to arouse negative feelings for many Europeans. In some Member States, this has a negative impact on migrant integration.

Funding: Several EU funds can finance integration measures but the total amount being spent is not known. Since 2015, the EU has mobilised over €5 billion of additional funding to deal with the increase in migration flows, of which over €100 million was allocated to integration. In 2017, Member States declared that in order to integrate migrants, they needed additional resources of around €450 million from the Asylum Migration and Integration Fund. Integration policies should be based on a sound assessment of needs and funded adequately, say the auditors.

Lack of commitment: In 2016, the European Commission developed an Action Plan with 52 measures at EU level; 23 of which had not been completed yet in December 2017. In addition, Member States are encouraged to develop specific measures to tackle certain issues, but the Commission does not monitor these measures. The effective implementation of the Action Plan measures depends on the Member States’ commitment.

Incomplete policies: The majority of Member States have integration policies in place within different policy frameworks. But these do not systematically address all groups of migrants and do not always tackle all areas of integration. Integration policies should provide a comprehensive framework to support all migrants across all relevant policy areas.

Lack of monitoring: Most Member States do not have a complete overview of the number of migrants supported or of the amount spent on integration measures. At national level, there are various weaknesses in monitoring. The Commission is currently proposing the creation of dedicated indicators, which may facilitate the development of evidence-based policymaking.

Complexity: Different EU funds may finance the same type of action for the same target group. There are more than 400 different entities involved in managing measures for migrant integration in the Member States. Most Member States have a coordination body, but coordination mechanisms in place are weak.  

The briefing paper is available on the ECA website in all EU languages.

ECA European Court of Auditors
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Integration Expert