The National Integration Evaluation Mechanism (NIEM), Measuring and improving integration of beneficiaries of international protection is a six-years long transnational project which aims to prepare key actors in the integration field in 15 EU Member States to better face the current challenges and improve the integration outcomes of beneficiaries of international protection. Conflict situations tend to last longer and it takes currently on average 17 years, before refugees fleeing civil wars may eventually have a chance to return to their home country. Hence, the long-term integration of newly arrived beneficiaries of international protection is without alternative and presents an immediate challenge for European societies.
NIEM will establish a mechanism for a biennial, comprehensive evaluation of the integration of beneficiaries of international protection to provide evidence on gaps in integration standards, identify promising practices and evaluate the effects of legislative and policy changes.
NIEM is developed against the background of the changing legal environment on international protection both at national and European levels, induced by the high numbers of new arrivals in the recent years. The project endeavours to provide evidence on some of the most burning discussions concerning these changes: Are EU standards on integration of beneficiaries of international protection well implemented? How are they impacting integration policies? Are policies aimed at beneficiaries of international protection having an impact on successful integration? What are the challenges and good practices, and which policy gaps need to be addressed?
NIEM design: Evidence from policies on paper to outcomes in practice
To answer these questions, NIEM is developing comprehensive, reliable and sustainable data collection methods on the integration of beneficiaries of international protection. It will provide evidence that can support the establishment of integration policies maximising the potential of newly arrived beneficiaries of international protection. More than 150 NIEM indicators build and expand on the current EU integration standards and cover different areas and types of expertise, various stakeholders and diverse types of evidence. The wide range of indicators will allow NIEM to analyse the interlinkages among the accessibility and security of the residence permit for beneficiaries of international protection and their families and integration within the different socio-economic and socio-cultural fields.
The indicators offer a unique combination of input, policy (or sustainability) and outcome indicators which allows for anticipation and identification of the most pressing obstacles to integration, from the policies on the paper to the outcomes in practice and from the reception phase of asylum seekers to equal opportunities for beneficiaries of international protection.
NIEM also calls for the participation of different stakeholders – governments, local authorities, social partners and NGOs, as well as beneficiaries of international protection themselves. The indicators require the analysis of different types of evidence as well, including national statistics, quantitative and qualitative research, independent evaluation, internal audit and self-assessment.
NIEM starts in 2016 with the development of the indicators based on the àpilot project from Central Europe.
From results to impact: Alliances for better refugee integration
To turn the results and evidence of NIEM into tangible and concrete improvements of integration of beneficiaries of international protection in the partner countries, each project partner establishes national coalitions. These national coalitions, involving representatives of public institutions, academia, NGOs, migrant organizations and beneficiaries themselves, will be aimed at: promoting NIEM and its outcomes in each participating country; tightening relations between key stakeholders, experts and practitioners; and monitoring the implementation of the recommendations and advocating for their mainstreaming in the participating countries.
In addition, an international NIEM coalition involving key European stakeholders will complement the national coalitions and advocate for the improvement of integration policies of beneficiaries of international protection on the EU level. Through this early and continuous involvement in the project activities of key stakeholders in integration policy and practice, the results of NIEM reports can contribute to the shaping of European and national policy solutions. Thus, NIEM will allow for ongoing adaptations of integration policies towards beneficiaries of international protection.
Moreover, the results of NIEM are helpful beyond the policy objectives. Its evidence on policy gaps and potential integration capacities is essential in addressing the fears and reservations of those European citizens, who are not against the idea of asylum, but rather perplexed and doubtful about their country’s integration capacity and the possible consequences of the increased number of beneficiaries of international protection.
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Leader: Institute of Public Affairs (Poland)