A recent report published by the European Court of Auditors has highlighted major shortcomings in EU integration policies. The briefing, entitled “The Integration of Migrants from outside the EU“, outlines EU actions to support the integration of third country nationals, and identifies a number of key challenges that the EU has faced in implementing these policies.
The briefing focuses on people without EU citizenship residing within the EU legally. This includes those migrating for employment, family reunification, refugees and asylum seekers. Although primary responsibility for integrating newcomers lies with Member States, the EU has an increasingly important role to play, particularly through funding sources and in writing anti-discrimination legislation.
The briefing outlines seven major challenges to the successful integration of migrants as well as recommendations. These include delays in application processing times and a lack of coordination at both the EU and national level. The report also highlights inconsistent policies – integration policies vary widely at the national level, and often target specific migrant groups. As a result, some groups such as young migrants or stateless people are overlooked in integration programmes. To combat this, Member States need a comprehensive framework that supports all migrants across all relevant policy areas.
Discrimination and the rise of anti-immigrant sentiment across Europe has also impeded integration. The briefing recommends that the EU use its position to guarantee equal access and develop non-discrimination policies to counter this narrative.
Another key issue is funding; as programmes for migrants are financed through a variety of EU funds, it’s difficult to calculate exactly how much is spent on integration. The briefing calls for a comprehensive assessment of migrant and host country needs, supported by adequate financial resources.
There has been a lack of commitment from the EU and member states. The European Commission 2016 Action Plan on Integration has not been fully achieved, with 23 of 52 steps not yet completed. Member States’ activities are not monitored by the Commission, raising concerns over their commitment and accountability. Lastly there has been ineffective monitoring as the availability of good data is limited, and Member States are not required to monitor the outcomes of integration measures. Monitoring data is essential in developing effective policies and improving the lives of migrants.
The briefing concludes by urging both the EU and national governments to commit to coordinated efforts to address these challenges. European Court of Auditors Member Iliana Ivanova commented, “The long-term impact of the recent inflow of migrants will depend on how well they are integrated into European society.”
Photo: (CC) EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations, November 2017