E.g., 11/30/2023
E.g., 11/30/2023
Understanding Transnational Dynamics in European Immigrant Integration Policy

Although measuring immigrant integration outcomes in destination countries is a difficult task, European Union Member States increasingly recognize that the expected results have thus far failed to materialize. In a political and economic climate that tests social cohesion and labor market resilience, a fresh approach to integration across the European Union is urgently needed—one that ideally takes into account the complexity of the three-way process between the migrant, origin country, and country of destination.

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 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

In light of this recognition, policymakers and other actors are beginning to look at the transnational picture: specifically, the role that origin countries can play in the integration process. Migrant-sending countries can play a part in this process by actively engaging their nationals abroad and devoting resources to interventions among emigrants in destination countries. At the same time, while the willingness of origin countries to support integration outcomes can inject new life into a policy area that often comes across as tired, it must also be recognized that they cannot overcome bad integration conditions at destination.

This policy brief explores the transnational dynamics at work behind the scenes of integration policy, including wider sociopolitical factors in origin and destination countries that can make identifying successful integration policies difficult. It also examines the relative effect of origin- and destination-country factors on integration outcomes, and treats the origin country as an integration actor that actively or passively supports—or hinders—integration outcomes for its nationals abroad. The brief argues for the importance of coordinating with and engaging sending countries as equal partners in the integration process in order to ensure that policy changes in one place do not negatively impact initiatives from another. 

Table of Contents 

I. Introduction

II. Measuring Integration: The Case for a Transnational Perspective

III. Why Do Certain Emigrants Succeed?

A. Policy Context

B. Host Countries as Determining Actors

IV. The Origin Country as Integration Actor

A. Active Discordance

B. Passive Discordance

C. Passive Concordance

D. Active Concordance

V. The Role of the European Union

VI. Conclusion