Key findings

Strengths and weaknesses

MIPEX’s 31 European and North American countries have, on average, policies just halfway favourable for integration.

Scoring around 50%, overall policies create as many obstacles as opportunities for immigrants to become equal members of society.

Migrant workers, reunited families, and long-term residents enjoy basic security, rights and protection from discrimination.

The three greatest obstacles are for settled foreigners to become citizens or politically active and for all children, whatever their background, to learn and achieve together in school.

Click on a policy pictogram

Labour Market Mobility

To find a job, not all foreign residents with the right to work have equal access to the full labour market, education system or employment services. For instance, only nationals and EU nationals in Europe enjoy equal opportunities in the public sector and better procedures to recognise their non-EU degrees. Most immigrants can use public employment offices. Targeted support is the major area of weakness in most countries. 

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Family Reunion

Most immigrants in Europe and North America have a legal right to family reunion that is slightly favourable for them and their families’ integration. Countries with restrictive definitions of the family tend to also impose burdensome conditions on the sponsor. Those with inclusive definitions often limit conditions out of respect for family life. 

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Education

Education, a new MIPEX strand, emerges as a major area of weakness in the integration policies of most countries. Few school systems make professional assessments of what newcomer children learned abroad. Most children have at least an implicit right to attend kindergarten and compulsory education. They also access general measures to help disadvantaged students. They will benefit as much or as little as other students with the same social background.

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Political Participation

Most immigrants have few opportunities to inform and improve the policies that affect them daily. 11 countries, mostly in Central Europe, still have laws denying immigrants basic political liberties. In Europe, non-EU nationals can stand as municipal candidates in 13 of the countries surveyed, vote locally in 19, regionally in 7, and nationally in 2 (PT, UK). Consultative bodies exist at local level in 15 countries and at national level in 11. They only provide halfway meaningful opportunities for immigrants to improve policies. About half of the countries fund immigrants’ political activities, while a third inform them of political rights. 

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Long-Term Residence

Along with family reunion, long-term residence is a relative strength for countries’ integration policies. These residents can work, study, retire and live in the country just like nationals. Migrants must pass many different eligibility requirements and conditions – some more restrictive than others. Several permit-holders cannot apply, even if living in the country for 5 years or more. 

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Access to Nationality

Dual nationality and jus soli are becoming the norms for countries of immigration. Most parts of the procedure still discourage or exclude many from trying. To apply, immigrants in Europe wait on average 7 years in total because of some longterm residence requirements. Half of the countries make citizenship conditional upon income and high fees. Applicants are normally required to know the language, often at high or unclear levels. Tests rarely come with the support to pass them. After rather discretionary procedures, applicants can at least appeal and enjoy some protections from statelessness and withdrawal.

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Anti-discrimination

Europe and North America perform better on anti-discrimination than they do in most areas of integration policy. A wide range of actors in most areas of life cannot discriminate against a person on the grounds of race, ethnicity or religion. If it’s for her nationality or multiple grounds, she has a harder – or no – chance. Generally, a victim seeking justice benefits from protections against victimisation, sharing the burden of proof, financial aid and interpreters. Equality NGOs could have stronger legal standings to represent victims, lead class actions and use situation testing.

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OVERALL SCORES 2010 - Country results

Click on a country to see its integration policies in-depth.

Rankings

Within the top 10 countries, immigrants benefit from slightly favourable policies in Benelux (BE, NL), North America (CA, US), Nordics (FI, NO, SE), and Southern Europe (IT, PT, ES).

SE, still leading despite family reunion shifts, is working to better implement and deliver results on equal rights and responsibilities.

PT, narrowing SE’s lead, transposed EU standards in ways to secure immigrants’ statuses (see also BE, ES).

Well-developed integration policies in old and new immigration countries demonstrate that what counts is not only tradition and experience, but also political will.

AT, CH, Central Europe and the Baltics still lag behind. 

Changes

Integration policies change little by little, but with potentially great effects on people’s lives.

Most countries improved just 1 overall point on the MIPEX 100-point-scale.

Though the crisis changed few policies, funding cuts may undermine their implementation and impact on immigrants.

Because of major reforms, integration opportunities slightly improved in GR (+10) and LU (+8) and worsened in the UK (-10).

Looking at the 6 MIPEX strands with data from 2007 and 2010, 6 countries are catching up to MIPEX’s halfway mark, while 10 keep progressing beyond it.

Recently wavering countries (+0) took either no or contradictory steps. New conditions slightly reversed the direction in 4 leading countries.

Trends

MIPEX finds strong positive statistical correlations between its different strands. Most countries that do well (or poorly) in one area of integration do well (or poorly) in the others.
Labour market mobility and family reunion: Immigrant families can better reunite and participate in countries that help all newcomers find the right jobs, with leading countries being old and new countries attracting labour migration.
Labour market mobility and education: Countries where immigrant adults can improve their careers, skills and qualifications are more likely to see and address their children’s specific needs and opportunities.
Access to nationality, political participation, anti-discrimination: Newcomers are more encouraged to participate politically as foreigners in the very countries that encourage them to become citizens. Where government is only directly accountable to citizens, it is often harder for an immigrant to become one. Countries that facilitate naturalisation also tend to protect all residents from many forms of discrimination, including based on their nationality.
Family reunion and long-term residence: Countries tend to grant secure and equal rights to families and long-term residents.
Conditions for residence: Increasingly, the many high conditions that immigrants traditionally must meet to naturalise after many years are imposed on newcomers who wish to settle down or reunite with families.

Using evidence to improve policy

Few countries base integration policy changes on hard facts. The focus on numbers of immigrants and test scores/levels says little about whether society is integrating over time. Some governments monitor statistics on integration trends, but fewer evaluate if policies had any impact on them.

Evidence is mostly used on migrant employment and education. As parties politicise integration to win votes, success is increasingly measured through election results and public perception. Whether or not integration is a priority, national changes are often justified by international law and examples from other countries. In Europe, national policies are more favourable and similar where EU law applies (family reunion, long-term residence and anti-discrimination).