E.g., 08/23/2019
E.g., 08/23/2019

Supporting Immigrant Integration in Europe? Developing the Governance for Diaspora Engagement

May 2014

Supporting Immigrant Integration in Europe? Developing the Governance for Diaspora Engagement

The governance of immigrant integration in European Union Member States is a complex process involving actors across multiple policy areas at national, local, and supranational levels of administration. In addition, origin-country actors are now increasingly involved in immigrant integration, mostly through engaging their diasporas in destination countries. This INTERACT conceptual report, by Maria Vincenza Desiderio of MPI Europe with Agnieszka Weinar of the European University Institute, explores these trends.

This report is part of the INTERACT research project, led by the Migration Policy Centre at the European University Institute. INTERACT is implemented by a consortium built by the the Centre for Ethnic and Migration Studies, the Universitat Pompeu Fabra, and the Migration Policy Institute Europe.

More than 20 million people born outside of the European Union (third-country nationals) live in EU Member States and represent more than 4 percent of the total EU population. INTERACT promotes research on third-country nationals’ integration in EU countries as a three-way process that  involves immigrants, countries of emigration, and countries of immigration. The research agenda focuses on the extent to which the  immigrant integration policies of EU Member States and the expatriate-focused policies of origin countries complement or contradict each other; and how these policies collectively affect the integration of migrants to the European Union.


This project is co-funded by the European Union

The seminal contribution of the report is a detailed mapping of the origin-country institutions that participate in the governance of immigrant integration in the European Union. In the past two decades, origin countries have widened their understanding of the diaspora’s contribution to development in the homeland, and acknowledged that development gains tend to be greater the more successfully integrated diaspora members are in their destination countries. The main origin countries of migrants residing in the European Union—such as Turkey and Morocco—have progressively moved away from rhetoric that stigmatises integration in the receiving society, and have instead started to encourage integration as an instrumental process for leveraging development returns to emigration. 

The report shows that in addition to the ministries and ministerial departments devoted to diaspora and emigration affairs, many other offices under various governmental portfolios also participate in the process, either directly or through liaison offices, embassies, and consular networks in receiving countries. The ‘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 multiplicity of actors involved in origin and destination countries makes it extremely complex to identify and convene the relevant interlocutors for international cooperation. At the same time, this governance decoupling offers opportunities for an incremental and modest approach to cooperation. Policies to protect the rights and welfare of migrant workers abroad—notably through bilateral labour and social security agreements—along with predeparture and post-arrival support measures to facilitate early labour market insertion of active migrants in occupations matching their skills, are among the most common integration-related actions that origin countries pursue. These are also the more promising areas for cooperation with destination countries. EU institutions can play an important role in tackling the challenges and maximizing the opportunities for cooperation between origin and destination countries on integration governance.

MPI Europe researcher Maria Vincenza Desiderio discusses some of the report's main findings.

Table of Contents 

I. Introduction

A. The Context of Integration Policy Development

B. Mapping the Increased Engagement of EU Institutions

II. The Governance of Immigrant Integration in EU Member States

A. The National Level

B. The Subnational Level

C. The Role of the European Union

III. Origin-Country Involvement in the Governance of Immigrant Integration: A Mapping of Actors

A. Changing Approaches Toward Diaspora Engagement and Integration Among Origin Countries

B. How Origin Countries Can Participate in Immigrant Integration: An Overview

C. Mapping the Field: A Survey of Origin-Country Integration Efforts

D. A Deeper Look: Diaspora Engagement and Integration in Turkey, Morocco, and India

E. The Role of Local-Level Institutions and Civil Society

IV. International Cooperation on Immigrant Integration

A. Explaining the Challenges and Incentives for Cooperation

B. Potential Areas of Enhanced Cooperation on Sociocultural Integration

C. Existing Frameworks and Practices of Cooperation:the Socioeconomic Dimension

D. EU Regional Dialogues on Socioeconomic Integration

V. Conclusions and Recommendations