The NIEM project reveals low standards and a lack of harmonisation on refugee integration across the EU

MIGRATIONS - Jun 19, 2019

“The European benchmark for refugee integration”, the new baseline report of the NIEM project, is a first comprehensive analysis of the framework in place in 14 EU countries.


To a large extent, the Geneva Convention and EU asylum rules are about integration. Often overlooked in public and policy debates, equal rights and targeted support for refugees and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection are the foundation of asylum in the EU. Europe’s main way to provide global durable solutions to refugees is through long-term integration.

However, Member State policies largely fail to deliver on this promise: the baseline study of the NIEM project reveals often low standards and a lack of harmonisation on refugee integration across the EU. With this report, NIEM launches its regular evaluations of how governments respond to the challenge of long-term integration. NIEM’s comprehensive and reliable indicators collect and analyse data on the integration of beneficiaries of international protection.

The report presents a comparative, indicator-based assessment of the refugee integration frameworks in place in 14 countries: Czechia, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden. Conclusions cover the full range of integration dimensions, such as housing, employment, education and aspects of legal integration, and refer to recognized refugees and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection. Legal and policy indicators are the focus of analysis, as well as indicators on mainstreaming, coordination and efforts to involve refugees and locals. Results are presented in terms of concrete steps that policymakers need to take in order to establish a refugee integration framework in line with the standards required by international and EU law.

Key findings:

  • European countries vary widely in terms of the quality of their integration policies for refugees and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection, this despite the standards set by EU and international law. Europe is far from providing a level playing field for refugees to achieve a better life.
  • Rarely do refugees experience fully favourable conditions to integrate in any area of life.
  • The health and education sectors are making the greatest efforts to help those in need. Much more needs to be done by public housing, employment and training services.
  • Countries are on average better in providing access to rights than in implementing the accompanying policies and measures that are actively supporting this integration.
  • Administrative barriers are widespread, especially to help refugees access the housing they need.
  • One of European countries’ greatest challenges is coordinating their policies and getting locals and refugees themselves involved in designing the solution.
  • To develop and implement their policies, most national governments do not work in partnership with civil society and local and regional governments.

Read publication: The European benchmark for refugee integration: A comparative analysis of the National Integration Evaluation Mechanism in 14 EU countries

On 5 July 2019 at 11 a.m., NIEM’s lead researchers will present key comparative findings in the webinar ‘The European benchmark for refugee integration’. In addition, they will highlight how results feed into the NIEM national coalitions for improved refugee integration, with contributions from France, Hungary and Spain. It is addressed to policy practitioners, civil society stakeholders and researchers all over Europe with an interest in providing refugees with a better start and a long-term integration perspective. Join the webinar: ‘The European benchmark for refugee integration’ (5 July 2019 at 11 a.m.)