Europe’s patchwork of refugee integration policies

Data de publicació:
Sinem Yilmaz

NIEM  Policy Brief 

Europe’s patchwork of refugee integration policies:   The EU action plan on integration and inclusion as an instrument to address deficiencies 

Linking  NIEM results to EU action 2021 to 2027

The specific needs of beneficiaries of international protection (BIPs) receive less attention than needed in the migrant integration policies of EU Member States. Often, refugee integration is subordinated to undifferentiated approaches to the integration of third-country nationals. However, being forced to flee from war zone countries or violence and seeking for refuge in European countries, beneficiaries of international protection face specific challenges on their integration pathways. In many cases, they have to leave behind their families, possessions and documentation of their former qualifications. Starting from pre-migration stage, they might have gone through traumatizing experiences and suffered from physical and psychological violence. Therefore, their integration experiences differ from other groups of migrants in several aspects. Special needs of BIPs with a range of social and economic rights are also explicitly mentioned in the 1951 Refugee Convention on which the European Union built and enshrined integration standards for BIPs in the Common European Asylum System. In short, ensuring proper protection for BIPs requires disentangling their needs and priorities from those of migrants who arrived under other circumstances1.

The National Integration Evaluation Mechanism (NIEM) provides evidence on the quality of the frameworks in place to support the long-term integration of beneficiaries of international protection2 in 14 EU Member States3. Results are presented in relation to the concrete steps policymakers need to take in order to establish a framework that is in line with the standards required by international and EU law. NIEM’s Evaluation 1 remains focused on those stepstones of a comprehensive approach to refugee integration related to the legal, policy and
collaboration frameworks (see Annex I for more details).

The EU Action Plan on Integration and Inclusion 2021 – 2027 is an important opportunity for EU Member States to develop more comprehensive integration policies and strengthen the understanding of integration as an inclusive two-way process.

This policy brief gives an overview of the 2019 results4 from the NIEM project and aims to see to what extent integration policies for BIPs of the 14 Member States covered are in line with the principles, values, and objectives of the EU Action Plan. Policymakers and refugee integration stakeholders can identify areas where the EU Action Plan and its concrete goals can help to address policy gaps and needs as identified by NIEM research. Conversely, using NIEM results will contribute to the overall assessment of the achievement of Action Plan objectives as this EU instrument is being implemented in the coming years Therefore, this brief also presents specific recommendations to the European Commission and Member States about how to foster the implementation of the Action Plan and/or make it more effective in their integration policies.


1- UNHCR Executive Committee 2005; J. Tánczos (2016) ‘Lost in transition? The European standards behind refugee integration’. NIEM Policy Brief, Migration Policy Group, Brussels
2 The data presented in this brief covers both recognized refugees and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection.
3 The NIEM analysis in 2019 includes 14 countries: Bulgaria (BG), the Czech Republic (CZ), France (FR), Greece (GR), Hungary (HU), Italy (IT), Latvia (LV), Lithuania (LT), Netherlands (NL), Poland (PL), Romania (RO), Slovenia (SI), Spain (ES) and Sweden (SE).
4 Wolffhardt A., Conte C. and Huddleston T. (2020), ‘The European benchmark for refugee integration: a comparative analysis of the national integration evaluation mechanism in 14 EU countries’. NIEM Evaluation I Comprehensive Report [online]. Available from: