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Document 52011DC0455


/* COM/2011/0455 final */





2........... MANAGING INTEGRATION IS A SHARED RESPONSIBILITY...................... 3

A........... INTEGRATION THROUGH PARTICIPATION.......................................................... 4

B........... MORE ACTION AT LOCAL LEVEL.......................................................................... 8

C........... INVOLVEMENT OF COUNTRIES OF ORIGIN...................................................... 10

3........... THE WAY FORWARD............................................................................................ 11


Over the past decades, most EU Member States have experienced increasing migration. Migrants from third countries represent around four percent of the total EU population[1]. The composition of EU's population is thus changing, and European societies are faced with increasing diversity. This leads to new conditions for social cohesion and government response to public concerns.

Europe is also strongly influenced by demographic changes, including the ageing population, longer life expectancies and a declining working-age population[2]. Legal migration can help to address these issues, in addition to maximising the use of the labour force and skills already available in the EU and improving the productivity of the EU economy. Demographic trends vary from region to region and need to be addressed through tailor made solutions. If the full benefits from migration are to be realised, Europe needs to find a way to better cope with its diverse and multicultural societies through more effective integration of migrants.

The Europe 2020 Strategy[3] and the Stockholm Programme[4] fully recognise the potential of migration for building a competitive and sustainable economy and they set out, as a clear political objective, the effective integration of legal migrants, underpinned by the respect and promotion of human rights[5].

Member States have confirmed their commitment to further developing the core idea of integration as a driver for economic development and social cohesion, in order to better enhance migrants' contribution to economic growth and cultural richness[6]. There is already a framework for EU co-operation on integration through the Common Basic Principles for Immigrant Integration Policy in the European Union, which were agreed by the Council in 2004[7]. The Principles underline that integration is a dynamic, two-way process of mutual accommodation by migrants and by the societies that receive them. All EU actions presented by the Commission in the 2005 Common Agenda for Integration have been completed.[8] However, the social, economic and political context has changed and not all integration measures have been successful in meeting their objectives. Integration policies also require the will and commitment of migrants to be part of the society that receives them.

The introduction of a new legal provision in the Treaty concerning EU support to the promotion of integration of third-country nationals[9] residing legally in Member States (Article 79.4 TFEU) allows further concerted action while excluding harmonisation. This action has to take into account the fact that the demographic, social, economic and political context has changed.

Figures[10] confirm that the most pressing challenges include:

· the prevailing low employment levels of migrants, especially for migrant women,

· rising unemployment and high levels of 'over-qualification',

· increasing risks of social exclusion,

· gaps in educational achievement,

· public concerns with the lack of integration of migrants.

The renewed European Agenda for the Integration of Third-Country Nationals is a contribution to the debate on how to understand and better support integration. A diversity of approaches is called for, depending on the different integration challenges faced by various types of migrants, both low and highly skilled, as well as beneficiaries of international protection. Europe needs a positive attitude towards diversity and strong guaranties for fundamental rights and equal treatment, building on the mutual respect of different cultures and traditions. Actions targeting especially vulnerable groups of migrants are also needed.

Building on experiences across the EU, this Communication highlights European integration challenges. To address these challenges, it suggests recommendations and areas for action. Together with the accompanying Commission Staff Working Paper, it provides an overview of EU initiatives to support the integration of third-country nationals. The EU can contribute to steering and guiding Member States' efforts via different instruments. The European Agenda for Integration cannot be implemented through European instruments alone. Integration is a dynamic, long-term process requiring efforts by a wide range of actors in different policy areas and at various levels. This is the reason why the recommendations included in this Communication target all actors involved in the integration process.


In the light of the above, it is clear that integration policies should create favourable conditions for migrants' economic, social, cultural and political participation to realise the potential of migration. Effective solutions to integration challenges must be found in each national and local context but as these challenges are common to many Member States, experiences could be shared. Although it is not the prerogative of the EU to determine integration strategies, the EU can provide a framework for monitoring, benchmarking and exchange of good practice, and create incentives through the European financial instruments. Examples of good practice and knowledge exchange are presented in the accompanying Commission Staff Working Paper.

Integration is linked to a framework of legislation and policy defined and coordinated at EU level[11]. Ensuring a legislative framework for equal treatment and granting all migrants a proper level of rights is part of EU action in support of integration. Integration priorities should be fully taken into account in all relevant areas, so as to contribute in a coherent way towards meeting integration challenges as well as other political priorities.

Integration is an ever evolving process, which requires close monitoring, constant efforts, innovative approaches and bold ideas. The solutions are not easy to define but if migrants integrate successfully in the EU, this will represent a significant contribution to the achievement by the EU of the targets it has set in the Europe 2020 Strategy, namely to raise the employment rate to 75% by 2020, to reduce school drop out rates to less than 10%, to increase the share of the population having completed tertiary education and to lift 20 million people out of poverty or social exclusion[12].

The proposed actions focus on the following key areas:

A. Integration through participation.

B. More action at local level.

C. Involvement of countries of origin.


Integration is a process that starts on the ground and integration policies should be developed with a genuine 'bottom-up' approach, close to the local level. Such policies include actions such as support for language learning, introductory measures, access to employment, education and vocational training and the fight against discrimination, which all aim at increasing migrants' participation in society.

Integration requires the engagement by the receiving society in accommodating the migrants, respecting their rights and cultures and informing them about their obligations. At the same time, migrants need to show the willingness to integrate and to respect rules and values of the society in which they live.

1.           The socio-economic contribution of migrants

1.1.        Acquiring language knowledge

It is broadly agreed that the acquisition of language skills is critical for integration. Enhanced language skills lead to improved job opportunities, independence and migrant women participation in the labour market.

Language training, as well as introduction programmes, must be accessible both financially and geographically. It is important to offer different levels of language courses based on participants’ knowledge and conditions for learning. It can be relevant to use the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), which is a basis developed by the Council of Europe for mutual recognition of language qualifications, when determining language proficiency levels[13].

1.2.        Participation in the labour market

In many Member States, there is a considerable gap in employment levels between third-country nationals and EU nationals. In 2010, the employment rate of third-country nationals aged 20-64 was ten percentage points lower than that of the total population in the same age-group at the EU level[14]. In particular, employment rates of migrant women are substantially lower than both the average employment rate and the employment rates of migrant men[15]. As participating in the labour market is one of the best and most concrete ways to integrate in society, efforts to reduce these gaps must target both labour migrants and migrants who come to the EU in the context of family reunification or as beneficiaries of international protection.

Over-qualification of third-country nationals for their jobs, especially of women[16], is noticeable in all Member States where data are available. Unemployed migrants or migrants employed in positions for which they are overqualified are an underutilised resource and a waste of human capital. In addtion, this situation can be perceived by the migrants as degrading. Services should be developed with the aim to enable the recognition of qualifications and competences from the country of origin facilitating immigrants’ possibilities to take up employment which matches their skills.

A first step would be to enhance our tools for mapping of educational background, previous work experience, comparability of diplomas and qualifications, and identifying the possible need for training.

Secondly, transparency of information on available jobs and the support of public employment services are also important. The role of employers and social partners in promoting diversity and combating discrimination is crucial. The important role of migrants as entrepreneurs and their creativity and innovation capacity should also be reinforced[17], with the support of authorities with information on the conditions to set up business.

Thirdly, introduction programmes should be organised to support newly arrived migrants' entry into employment and other vital arenas of the receiving societies. Introduction measures can be framed in a contractual agreement to ensure commitment and include obligations and rights on both sides.

1.3.        Efforts in the education system

Most EU countries have a growing proportion of students with a migrant background[18]. School systems need to adapt to the increasing diversity of the student body to deliver high-quality education for all and to capitalise on the potential of this diversity. In order to facilitate successful learning of the language, measures taken at an early age, starting from the pre-school stage are beneficial.

The average educational level of third-country nationals is below that of EU nationals[19]. Young people with a migrant background are at greater risk of exiting the education and training system without having obtained an upper secondary qualification. Additional efforts are needed to prevent early school leaving among migrant youth[20].

Teachers and other staff should receive training for managing diversity. The recruitment of migrants as teachers or in the childcare workforce may also be useful both to encourage learning in classes with a concentration of migrants and as a means of further opening national education systems to other European and non-European cultures. Language classes for parents in connection with their children's schooling guidance, mentoring and tutoring are examples of useful actions. Schools in especially disadvantaged areas with a high concentration of migrant youth could develop specialised programmes, mentoring systems and access to training to have competitive advantages.

1.4.        Ensuring better living conditions

Social inclusion measures targeted at migrants should aim to remove possible barriers blocking effective access to social and health services, and fight against poverty and exclusion of the most vulnerable[21]. The integration of beneficiaries of international protection requires particular attention. They have often had traumatic experiences, which require specific social and psychological care. Policies should, therefore, be designed to minimise isolation of beneficiaries of international protection and restrictions to their rights, and provide for effective language learning, access to accommodation, access to health care in health systems that promote integration and culturally adapted health promotion programmes. Access to vocational training and assistance in seeking employment should also be targeted.

The situation of Roma third-country nationals legally residing in the EU deserves particular attention.

1.5.        Better use of EU funding

A better use of existing EU instruments should therefore support migrants' participation and the implementation of bottom-up integration policies. The European Fund for the Integration of Third-Country Nationals and the European Refugee Fund support measures such as reception and introductory schemes, participation in social and civic life and equal access to services. They are complemented by measures to facilitate access to and integration into the labour market funded under the European Social Fund, and the European Regional Development Fund can support a large range of integration measures in the context of regional development.


Member States should ensure:

· the provision of language courses, reflecting migrants varying needs at different stages of their integration process;

· the organisation of introductory programmes for newly arrived migrants, including language and civic orientation courses. These programmes should address the specific needs of migrant women in order to promote their participation in the labour market and strengthen their economic independence;

· measures to map and assess the individual's needs and to validate qualifications and professional experiences;

· increasing labour market participation of migrants through active labour market policies;

· efforts in education systems equipping teachers and school leaders with the skills for managing diversity; recruiting teachers from migrant backgrounds; and participation of migrant children in early childhood education; and

· special attention to specific needs of vulnerable groups of migrants.

The Commission should support:

· the exchange of practice and policy coordination in the areas of employment, education and social policies; and

· a better use of existing EU financial instruments to support migrants' participation.

2.           Rights and obligations – achieving equal treatment and a sense of belonging

The respect of universal values and fundamental human rights is enshrined in the Treaty. Efforts to fight against discrimination and to give migrants instruments to become acquainted with the fundamental values of the EU and its Member States should be strengthened.

Migrants' participation in the democratic process is important for their integration. Obstacles to migrants' political participation in terms of legislative and structural barriers must be overcome to the greatest extent possible. The involvement of migrant representatives, including women, in the drawing up and implementation of integration policies and programmes should be enhanced.

Outreach programmes and work placements can help to build capacity within migrant organisations and encourage and support the participation of these organisations at the local level, such as school boards, housing administration etc.

Measures to enhance democratic participation could include training and mentors, granting migrants access to voting rights in local elections, creating local, regional and national consultative bodies, encouraging entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation[22].


Member States should ensure:

· measures to implement in practice the principle of equal treatment and to prevent institutional as well as every-day discrimination; and

· efforts to remove obstacles to migrants' political participation. The involvement of migrant representatives in the drawing up of and implementation of integration policies and programmes should be further enhanced.

The Commission should ensure:

· the full and correct implementation of existing directives on non-discrimination and in the area of legal migration.


Integration policies should be formulated and implemented with the active involvement of local authorities. Local authorities are responsible for a wide range of services and activities and they play an important role in shaping the interaction between migrants and the receiving society.

1.           Addressing especially disadvantaged urban areas

Many migrants settle in urban areas and face particular integration challenges there. Integration policies must specifically address the challenges of deprived neighbourhoods in order to allow urban areas to stimulate economic and cultural activity and contribute to social cohesion. Contracts or other agreements between national, regional and local authorities have been successfully developed in several Member States to support urban development. Involving representatives of local organisations and inhabitants in such agreements is fundamental. Effective integration also requires supportive measures to ensure social infrastructures and urban regeneration, based on an integrated approach in order to avoid segregation.

2.           Improvement of multi-level cooperation

Even if integration measures are mainly for local authorities, close cooperation between the different levels of governance is important to coordinate the provision, financing and evaluation of services. Effective integration can only be realised in partnership between the whole range of stakeholders such as the European institutions, Member States and national, regional and local actors. The EU can provide a framework for monitoring, benchmarking and for the exchange of good practice among the various governance levels, as well as creating incentives promoting good local and regional models.

'Territorial pacts' between relevant stakeholders at different levels should provide all participants the necessary flexibility of means to achieve certain policy goals, while providing the possibility to streamline policy instruments and funding channels and procedures. In this regard, the Committee of the Regions could have a role to play.


The INTI-Cities project was built to assess local integration policies, practices and governance arrangements based on a benchmark and was successfully tested in the municipalities of Helsinki, Rotterdam, Malmö, Düsseldorf, Genoa and Lyon. Moreover, the DIVE project was developed to evaluate how municipalities use diversity and equality principles when acting as employers, buyers of goods and services, policy-makers and service-providers. The DIVE benchmark was applied on the ground in Amsterdam, Leeds, Berlin and Rome. Cities participating in DIVE committed to a Charter on Integrating Cities[23].

The Region of Valencia has a legal framework providing for the active cooperation between a range of actors for the integration of newcomers. In addition, a 'Pact for Immigration' has been signed between the regional government, trade unions and the employers' association to manage diversity in the workplace and encourage the active participation of migrant workers, and a 'Local Pact for Integration' brings together public authorities from the local, provincial and regional level to boost cooperation and ensure coherence of the actions developed in different areas to support integration.

3.           EU financial support to local action

The European Fund for the Integration of third-country nationals has proven valuable in supporting Member States' efforts to enable third-country nationals to fulfil the conditions of residence and to facilitate their integration[24]. For the next multiannual financial framework, the Commission proposes to simplify the structure of the expenditure instruments by reducing the number of programmes to a two pillar structure, including a Migration and Asylum Fund[25]. One component will be actions supporting the integration of third-country nationals. The funding will also have an external dimension covering action in both the EU and third countries.

The focus of future EU funding on integration should be on a local, more targeted approach, in support of consistent strategies specifically designed to promote integration at local level. These strategies would be implemented mainly by local or regional authorities and non-state actors taking into account their particular situation. Results would be measured in terms of their contribution to the overall objective of enhanced participation, on the basis of 1) an increased employment rate; 2) a higher level of education; 3) better social inclusion; and 4) active citizenship.


Member States should ensure:

· comprehensive integration strategies designed and implemented with the effective involvement of all local and regional stakeholders with a 'bottom-up' approach.

Actors at all levels of governance should support:

· 'Territorial pacts', as a framework for cooperation between relevant stakeholders at different levels, to be developed for designing and implementing integration policies.

The Commission should support:

· the involvement of local and regional actors in the definition of integration policies within the framework of EU programmes, through a strategic partnership with the Committee of the Regions and European networks of cities and regions; and

· a higher degree of coordinated programming of existing EU financial instruments to target local action. This should be done through the use of the European Fund for the Integration of third-country nationals, the European Refugee Fund, the European Social Fund and the European Regional Development Fund.


Countries of origin can have a role to play in support of the integration process in three ways: 1) to prepare the integration already before the migrants' departure; 2) to support the migrants while in the EU, e.g. through support via the Embassies; 3) to prepare the migrant's temporary or definitive return with acquired experience and knowledge.

1.           Pre-departure measures in support of integration

Countries of origin could help migrants with pre-departure information for example on the required visas and work permits but also with language tuition or by offering vocational training to reinforce their skills. To this end, support to third countries on pre-departure measures should be given and also to improving methods for the recognition of migrants' qualifications and skills.

To assist people who want to migrate to the EU to access the necessary information on the application procedures, the Commission will launch the 'EU Immigration Portal' later this year.

2.           Beneficial contacts between diaspora communities and their countries of origin

Remittances as well as the transfer of skills, innovation and knowledge may favour sustainable investments and the development of the countries of origin.

The promotion of transnational entrepreneurship through a more dynamic strategy will favour entrepreneurs operating in both EU Member States and in partner countries. Such enterprises can create employment in the countries of origin and bring benefits both in terms of integration of migrants and increased trade between countries.

3.           Circular migration and development in countries of origin

Temporary and circular migrants should be supported by a rights-based framework that can ensure a clear legal status and facilitate mobility. Mobility partnerships with partner countries could be a suitable framework for promoting initiatives on integration in EU Member States that also benefit the countries of origin. Positive political messages from both sides could help creating a more favourable environment for integration but also for temporary and circular migration.


Member States and countries of origin should ensure:

· pre-departure support to migrants in order to facilitate integration to be part of the dialogue and cooperation frameworks between the EU and partner countries. A key element in this regard is to improve methods for recognition of the migrant's qualifications and skills.


Managing integration is crucial for realising the full potential of migration, both for the migrants and the EU. Effective integration policies are fundamental to reconcile economic growth with social cohesion and to deal with increasingly diverse European societies. This process requires a structured and informed debate. Coherent strategies are needed in order to achieve better participation of migrants in the societies in which they live.

3.1. Enhanced cooperation, consultation and coordination

Integration challenges will need to be met in partnership between national governments, regional and local authorities, while ensuring dialogue with relevant stakeholders at all levels of governance. Stronger cooperation with the countries of origin is also needed. The approach of a 'three-way process' between migrants, receiving societies and countries of origin could be strengthened. The EU should provide the necessary support to this process.

The Commission plays an important role in bringing together relevant actors in dialogue on the main integration challenges. Exchange of knowledge and good practice between Member States takes place in the network of National Contact Points on Integration, which could be further developed through targeted meetings and benchmarking exercises. Coordination and monitoring of policy developments within existing policy frameworks among the EU institutions, and in close cooperation with the Member States, can contribute to more efficient and effective integration policies.

Civil society representatives from Member States and EU level meet in the European Integration Forum set up by the Commission in cooperation with the European Economic and Social Committee. Consultative processes should be further strengthened with strategic meetings, for example with the Committee of the Regions and cities' associations. The Forum could be supported by national, regional or local forums. The European Web Site on Integration gathers important information from various categories of stakeholders and it provides an interactive tool for exchanging information to be further developed through on-line profiles.

3.2. Developing a flexible European toolbox

In order to reinforce coordination and knowledge exchange, a flexible European toolbox is being developed, allowing authorities in Member States to choose the measures which are most likely to prove effective in their context. So-called 'European modules' are being designed to support policies and practices. The modules build on the experiences of Member States and other actors and they can be adapted according to the needs of individual Member States, regions and cities[26]. The modules would constitute a European reference framework for the design and implementation of integration practices in Member States. They are developed in three thematic areas: 1) introductory and language courses; 2) strong commitment by the receiving society; and 3) active participation of migrants in all aspects of collective life.

3.3. Monitoring of results

Migration and integration policies rely heavily on high quality statistics for policy formulation and monitoring of results. The EU institutions and the Member States should work together to develop a framework for mainstreaming migration statistics and to improve the capacity to collect and publish statistics on migrants and their socio-economic situation.

Common European 'indicators' have been identified in four areas of relevance for integration: employment, education, social inclusion and active citizenship[27]. They will be used to monitor results of integration policies, with the aim of increasing comparability and enhancing the European learning process. Common indicators will make it possible to assess the efforts in support of integration in relation to European targets in the areas of employment, education and social inclusion and, thereby, to enhance coordination of national and EU policies. The Commission will monitor developments and formulate recommendations, in dialogue with Member States.


The Commission should support:

· the further use and coordination of European platforms for consultation and knowledge exchange (including the National Contact Points on Integration, the European Integration Forum and the European Web Site on Integration), to enhance their input in policy decision-making, monitoring and coordination of policies;

· the further development of a flexible tool-box, including 'European modules', to support national and local policies and practices. It will be implemented, in strategic alliance with the Committee of the Regions, by national, regional and local authorities and civil society; and

· common European 'indicators' in the areas of employment, education, social inclusion and active citizenship to monitor results of integration policies and which should serve as a basis for systematic follow-up.

[1]               A breakdown of the population by citizenship in 2010 showed that there were 32.4 million foreigners living in the EU-27 Member States (6.5% of the total population). Of those, 12.3 million were EU-27 nationals living in another Member State and 20.1 million were citizens from a non-EU-27 country (4% of the total population),

[2]               The increase in the total population of the EU in recent years was mainly due to net immigration. At the same time, the Union has witnessed a downward trend in immigration over the last few years, Eurostat, Statistics in focus, 1/2011,

[3]               Conclusions of the European Council, 25/26 March 2010, EUCO 7/10, CO EUR 4, CONCL 1.

[4]               The Stockholm Programme - An open and secure Europe serving and protecting citizens, OJ 2010/C 115/01.

[5]               The Annual Growth Survey 2011, which brings together different actions which are essential for the EU to move towards its Europe 2020 objectives, has shown the need for urgent reforms to promote skills and to create incentives to work both for the national and migrant population, COM(2011) 11 final, Annex 2, Macro economic report.

[6]               Conclusions of the Council and the Representatives of the Governments of the Member States on Integration as a Driver for Development and Social Cohesion, Council document 9248/10.

[7]               Council document 14615/04, 19.11.2004.

[8]               COM(2005) 389 final; SEC(2010) 357 final.

[9]               Third-country nationals are referred to as migrants coming from countries outside the EU and not holding the citizenship of an EU country. This group includes both persons born in a country outside the EU and persons born in the EU but not holding the citizenship of a Member State.

[10]             See the accompanying Commission Staff Working Paper.

[11]             An overview of recent EU initiatives supporting the integration of third-country nationals is presented in the accompanying Commission Staff Working Paper.

[12]             Conclusions of the European Council, 25/26 March 2010, EUCO 7/10, CO EUR 4, CONCL 1.

[13]             See CEFR,

[14]             In 2010, the average employment rate of the total population aged 20-64 was 68.6% (compared to 69.1% in 2009) and that of third-country nationals aged 20-64 was 58.5% (compared to 59.1% in 2009).

[15]             At the prime-working age, 25-54, the employment rate of female third-country nationals in 2010 was almost 20 percentage points lower than the average employment rate of all women in that age group. Eurostat, EU Labour Force Survey, quarterly data on employment rates by sex, age groups and nationality – comparison of employment rates for nationals and citizens of countries outside the EU-27:


[16]             Ethnic minority and Roma women in Europe: A case for gender equality? Synthesis report prepared for the European Commission 2009.

[17]             Recent statistics provided by the Chamber of Commerce of the Region Lombardy show that 60% of the new enterprises created in the region are founded by migrants,

[18]             Progress Report, SEC(2011) 526. Across the EU, the share of non-nationals in the age group 6-17 is 5.7%, respectively 7.9% in the age group 18-24. In Germany and Austria over 9% of children aged 6-17 are non-nationals, in Spain and Ireland over 11%, while in Luxembourg over 45% are non-nationals.

[19]             The EU Labour Force Survey shows that migrants are significantly under-represented at the medium educational level and over-represented to a much greater extent at the lowest educational level. At the same time, the overqualification rate of third-country nationals was 45% in 2009 compared to 29% for EU citizens,

[20]             COM(2010) 296; COM(2011) 18.

[21]             COM(2010) 758.

[22]             Summary report of the fourth meeting of the European Integration Forum, 6-7 December 2010,

[23]             See the Integrating Cities website,

[24]             Council Decision of 25 June 2007 establishing the European Fund for the Integration of third-country nationals for the period 2007 to 2013 as part of the General programme Solidarity and Management of Migration Flows (2007/435/EC). An amount of 825 Million Euro is available for the whole period.

[25]             COM(2011) 500 final.

[26]             The modules are a natural evolution of the 'Handbook on Integration for policy-makers and practitioners', (the 3rd edition of the Handbook is available on the European Web Site on Integration:

[27]             Conclusions of the Justice and Home Affairs Council of 3-4 June 2010, Council document 9248/10; Eurostat Methodologies and Working Papers, Indicators of Immigrant Integration - A Pilot Study,