BRUSSELS — Having developed a deeper understanding of the role of diasporas in development, origin-country governments are increasingly involved in immigrant integration in EU member states, mostly through engagement with their emigrants in the countries of settlement.
A new Migration Policy Institute Europe report, Supporting immigrant integration in Europe? Developing the governance for diaspora engagement, offers an innovative and detailed mapping of the origin-country institutions that participate in the complex and multilayered governance of immigrant integration in the European Union and beyond. The report also assesses the most promising avenues for international cooperation on immigrant integration policies and programs that run the gamut from education and training, employment, social inclusion, access to nationality, civic and political participation and religious practice.
During the past two decades, migrant-origin countries have come to more fully understand the development contributions made by their diaspora members, and the reality that economic gains, knowledge transfers, and other benefits tend to be greater the more successfully their nationals are integrated into the countries of destination. For example, the governments of Turkey and Morocco, the main countries of origin for migrants residing in EU member states, have progressively moved away from rhetoric that stigmatises integration in the receiving society, and instead have begun to encourage integration as an instrumental process for leveraging development gains.
The report, part of an INTERACT research initiative co-financed by the European Commission, traces the ministries, departments, and offices in Turkey, Morocco, the Philippines, India and other origin countries that are directly responsible for diaspora and emigration affairs, as well as those that participate in the process via liaison offices, embassies, and consular networks. The report observes that 'mainstreaming' of diaspora engagement policymaking across various general policy areas is similar to EU destination countries' efforts in the horizontal governance of immigrant integration.
The report also details the numerous actors involved in immigrant integration at the European level: from the local authorities in all EU member states that are pivotal actors in delivering integration services, to regions and federated states in some EU member states that participate in the design of integration-related policies, to national integration departments, and EU institutions that support and influence member states' efforts through core funding, exchange of information and coordination.
'The multiplicity of actors involved in origin and destination countries makes it extremely complex to identify and convene relevant interlocutors, and represents a major challenge to international cooperation in each of the thematic areas that compose the mosaic of integration policy', said the report's lead author, MPI Europe Policy Analyst Maria Vincenza Desiderio.
Among the most common integration-related actions that origin countries pursue are policies to protect the rights and welfare of migrant workers abroad, notably through bilateral labour and social security agreements, along with pre-departure and post-arrival support measures to facilitate early labour market insertion of migrants in occupations matching their skills. The report finds that these are the most promising areas for cooperation with destination-country governments in Europe.
'This paper offers a unique insight into the activities of origin countries regarding their overseas nationals', said MPI Europe Director Elizabeth Collett. 'Given the complexity of immigrant integration issues and the greater sensitivity of some dimensions—such as culture and religion—an incremental, modest and flexible approach to EU external cooperation is more likely to bear concrete fruit in a reasonable timeframe than broadly comprehensive and overly ambitious negotiations'.
MPI Europe provides authoritative research and practical policy design to governmental and nongovernmental stakeholders who seek more effective management of immigration, immigrant integration and asylum systems, as well as better outcomes for newcomers, families of immigrant background, and receiving communities throughout Europe. MPI Europe also provides a forum for the exchange of information on migration and immigrant integration practices within the European Union and Europe more generally. For more, visit www.mpieurope.org.