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NIEM publishes third comparative report, revealing stagnation—and backsliding—of refugee integration frameworks

NIEM has published its third comparative report, revealing how many countries are poorly prepared in terms of their long-term refugee integration frameworks, including those countries neighbouring Ukraine who have recently welcomed large numbers of refugees.

Using a points-based scoring system, the report compared the integration policy frameworks of 14 EU Members States. While some countries obtained high scores, such as Sweden, others, including Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria and Romania, find themselves at the other end of the spectrum. 

In the context of the recent Ukrainian refugee crisis, the publication of this report is both timely and relevant. Of course, the temporary protection regime in place for people fleeing Ukraine has its own set of legal conditions for integration, but many indicators included in the research refer to the wider integration infrastructure in place and on whether governments pursue a comprehensive strategy for the inclusion of refugees.

The report marks a stagnation—and in some cases even backsliding—of refugee integration policy frameworks in several EU member states over the past two years. Importantly, the report provides a roadmap to these countries, including those that are hosting large numbers of Ukrainian refugees, in terms of specific steps they can take to implement more inclusive policies that will better integrate new refugees into their societies. —Alexander Wolffhardt, Deputy Director of the Migration Policy Group and co-author of the report.

The report also identifies a correlation between countries with more inclusive integration policies and the wellbeing of refugees during the COVID-19 pandemic, in addition to several other findings.

Summary of key findings of the report:

•    Since the last NIEM comparative evaluation report two years ago, there has been little to no progress by the 14 countries analysed.

•    As a matter of fact, many countries have even seen some backsliding, specifically in the areas of residency, housing and social security, although there has been slight progress in the areas of citizenship, collaboration, family reunification and language learning and social orientation.

•    Compared to the legal provisions in place on residence and equal access, all countries do worse when it comes to active policies supporting integration, cross-sectoral coordination and government support for civil society and local authorities.

•    During the COVID-19 pandemic, countries with more inclusive integration policy frameworks had more favourable outcomes in terms minimising the effects of COVID-19 upon refugees.

The comprehensive report of NIEM’s Evaluation 2 is the result of a collaborative research effort of all NIEM partners, coordinated and authored by the Migration Policy Group. 

The full report can be accessed here.