A New Beginning: Refugee Integration in Europe

For the majority of refugees in Europe integration is the most relevant durable solution and European Union (EU) Member States have placed integration high on the policy and political agenda particularly since the mid-1990s. In many of those countries significant investment has been made in programmes and associated support to facilitate immigrant integration and to identify effective practice. In addition, an increasing awareness has developed of the importance of being able to evaluate immigrant integration using measurable indicators to help assess the effectiveness of policy and programming and form understandings of the factors that influence migrant integration trajectories.

In the specific case of refugees, integration is based on the rights flowing from the Qualification Directive (2011). There is however no specific EU integration policy instrument. While national approaches vary significantly within the EU, most programmes are mainstreamed into existing  integration efforts. The specific situation of refugees and the barriers or facilitators to their integration thereby risk being overlooked and the expert support needed to assist this group in becoming economically productive, self-reliant and to ensure dignity may be diminished. As such, this study has prioritized their specific situation, asking what refugee integration looks like.

The aim of this study was to review trends in the development of policy areas relevant to integration, to highlight already-used measurable integration indicators and the methods of evaluating integration, and to highlight factors that influence integration outcomes for refugees. Four project countries took part in the research: France, Sweden, Ireland and Austria. In addition, an overview was done of three other countries which have made significant moves toward refugee integration policy and programming: Canada, United Kingdom and Germany.