Integration of refugees is a dynamic two-way process. It begins from the day a refugee arrives within the new host society. The approach that governments choose determines the outcome of integration efforts and services and will ultimately influence integration for individual refugees. Refugee integration therefore places demands both on receiving societies and on the individuals and communities concerned.

Due to the forced nature of their migration and their experiences, compared with other migrant groups, refugees will often have specific needs that should be met in order to support their integration. They will often be one of the most vulnerable groups in society while also being the most resilient. It is therefore important that the special needs of refugees are recognised in integration policies and practices within an overall policy of mainstreaming.

EU rules

In November 2003, the EU adopted a Directive concerning the status of third-country nationals who are long-term residents. This Directive grants a Long-Term Residence permit to third-country nationals who:

  • have been staying legally and continuously on the territory of a Member State for a period of five years;
  • can prove they have stable and regular resources for themselves and their dependent family members;
  • have medical insurance.

The Long-Term Residence permit is a permanent status that gives the holder a right to equal treatment with nationals in relation to the areas mentioned in the Directive, including access to employment, education, social security and social assistance. Furthermore, the LTR permit gives the holder the right to reside in a Member State other than the one that has granted the LTR permit to exercise an economic activity in an employed or self-employed capacity, the pursuit of studies or vocational training or other purposes.

Refugees and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection are included in the scope of the amended LTR Directive and can therefore apply for a LTR permit.

ECRE's position

► ECRE believes that the extent to which refugees are able to integrate is critically and inextricably linked to the additional rights they are accorded upon recognition of their need for international protection. This relates to the acquisition, promotion and application of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights.

► The development of an inclusive and welcoming society is a key pre-requisite to the successful integration of refugees.

► It is crucial that refugees as well as beneficiaries of subsidiary protection are included in the scope of the Long term Residence Directive.

► The duration of the asylum procedure should be taken into account in calculating the five-year period for refugees and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection who apply for a LTR permit.

► The safeguards against refoulement for holders of a LTR permit who want to move to another Member State should be equally strong in the ‘second' Member State as in the member State that has granted the protection status.


Policy Papers ECRE Recommendations for the 2010 Ministerial Conference on Integration
Include Refugees and their Families in EU Integration Policies
ECRE's Comments on the Proposal for a Council Directive amending Long Term Residents Directive
Integration Policy Briefings
Integration Policy Briefings - National Reports
The Way Forward: 'Towards the Integration of Refugees in Europe'
Response to the Commission's Communication on a Common Agenda on Integration
Overview of Social and Economic Rights of Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Europe
Comments on the Commission Proposal for Establishing the European Refugee Fund (ERF) for 2005-2010
ECRE's Position on the Integration of Refugees in Europe
The Good Practice Guide on Integration of Refugees in European Union

Related Topics


Related News

13.07.2015 ICMC calls for more resettlement and other types of admission places for Syrian refugees

►10.07.2015 EASO: 666,000 applications for international protection in the EU+ in 2014

►10.07.2015 EP Report: asylum seekers should be relocated on the basis of family, community and cultural ties

►10.07.2015 Court of Justice: civic integration exams in the Netherlands make the right to family reunification 'impossible or excessively difficult' 

►30.04.2015 BCHR: obstacles to access protection and no integration prospects prompt refugees to leave Serbia

►18.05.2015 AIDA report on Bulgaria: recognised refugees left with no support during 'zero integration year'

►5.12.2014 Syrian refugees in Greece request dignified living conditions and access to other EU countries



ECRE Actions

ECRE's Ten-point plan to prevent deaths at sea

ECRE publishes note on the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund

ECRE Letter to Commissioner Malmstrom regarding transfer of competences in Greece

Memo on Integration to COREPER

Op-ed by Liz Fekete, Executive Director of the Institute of Race Relations