Go to Top

Developing and using European integration indicators

Developing and using European integration indicators


This background paper, Developing and using European integration indicators, has been prepared for the Swedish Presidency Conference Integration of New Arrivals – Incentives and work in focus. It is written by Jan Niessen with Mary-Ann Kate and Thomas Huddleston of the Migration Policy Group

It makes proposals for the development and use of European integration indicators and was delivered at the Swedish Presidency Conference Integration of New Arrivals – Incentives and work in focus (Malmo, 14-16 December 2009).

Click here to download the paper in PDF.

The first section makes the case and provides some guidance for the development and use of integration indicators. It explains that there are different types of indicators which can deal with the complex issues of migration and integration. It suggests that European co-operation can enhance the development and use of indicators and proposes a two-pronged approach, namely raising the profile of migration and integration in the Lisbon Strategy and the development and use of specific justice and home affairs indicators under the Stockholm Programme. It also briefly describes some existing data sources.

The second section summarises how general socio-economic and education indicators are used in the Lisbon Strategy and how they can and begin to be applied to immigrant and refugee integration. It looks in turn to the various Open Methods of Co-ordination underpinning the Lisbon Strategy, namely on employment, social inclusion, and education.

The third section explores how under the Stockholm Programme justice and home affairs’ specific indicators can be developed on residence, access to nationality and active citizenship.

The Annex gives an overview of socio-economic indicators currently being used in OMCs that are relevant for immigrants, as well as new core JLS indicators on legal integration that can be based on data largely provided at European level.

Main conclusions of the paper:

  • It makes sense to differentiate between nationals, EU nationals and third country nationals, and between foreign-born and second generation immigrants. Over time migration-related distinctions become less significant as immigrants and their descendants acquire full citizenship and become active citizens and other more socio-economic and cultural distinctions gain importance.
  • Within the Lisbon Strategy migration and integration do not get the attention they deserve to achieve the EU’s economic and social goals. Only a few of the agreed targets, indicators and benchmarks that are relevant for integration have actually been applied to immigrants (i.e. reported according to country of birth and nationality). The monitoring conducted by the EES, Social OMC and Education OMC on the situation of migrants in the areas of economic participation, social cohesion and education is limited, haphazard and non-compulsory. Nevertheless monitoring is gaining importance.
  • Whereas the EES focuses on employment and unemployment, no monitoring is done in relation to recognition of qualification and skills assessment and career development (vocational training is monitored in the Education OMC); workforce diversity and capacity-building; self-employment and entrepreneurship; or supplier diversity. Employment and unemployment are also the only integration-related indicators in the Social OMC, while many more relevant issues, including housing, social inclusion, social protection and health are left out.
  • The Education OMC monitors school education and lifelong learning (which encompasses out-of-school education, distance education and e-learning) and language competencies. New indicators will use the emerging international research to monitor indicators on school performance (defined as the “achievement gap”). The Education OMC’s remit does not extend to intercultural dialogue, cultural activities and diversity.
  • Migrants, interchangeably referred to as immigrants, third-country nationals, foreign-born and ethnic minorities, are generally targeted in the context of forming a vulnerable or disadvantaged group requiring assistance. The current immigrant population is more often viewed as persons with problems which are to be addressed than as contributors to achieving the Lisbon objectives. Whereas future labour immigrants are increasingly viewed as an opportunity to be capitalised upon.
  • The legal dimensions of migration and integration are an integral part of strategies to create an area of justice, liberty and freedom. However, no clear targets, indicators and benchmarks are set for accompanying immigrants in becoming full and active citizens. In part this is caused by the justice and home affairs ‘migration and integration governance structure’ not being as well developed as the Lisbon Strategy governance structure.
  • Generally speaking, there seems to be a reluctance to formulate European targets and benchmarks and there is a tendency to limit monitoring to describing good practices. The lessons learned from these practices are hardly connected with existing general guidelines and common basic principles, or translated into specific integration guidelines . This corresponds with the focus on quantitative outcome indicators. When work on outcome indicators is not linked with work on input indicators European co-operation will be deprived from understanding and learning how targets are met and outcomes achieved.

A way forward: 

  • Migration and integration actors can follow a two-pronged approach namely, step up and strengthen migration and integration related work in the Lisbon Strategy, and design and use justice and home affairs targets, indicators and benchmarks. Both approaches should be more firmly based on the changing (legal) situation and economic, social and cultural contributions and needs of non-nationals and foreign-born persons. This will increase the relevance of indicators, targets and benchmarks.
  • An incremental and carefully managed approach to the design and use of indicators enhances their quality and comparability. Their usefulness and use are enhanced when indicators are embedded in a policy framework with clear goals and targets and policy guidelines. The engagement of policy-makers, civil society and scientists not only facilitates the collection of data, but also its use for target-setting, monitoring, benchmarking and assessment purposes.
  • The Structural Indicators Database and the LIME Assessment Framework and other existing data sources (such as Eurostat) can be used to further develop migration and integration indicators by disaggregating data on nationality and country of birth (in addition to age and gender), in particular in the fields of employment, social inclusion and education.
  • Longitudinal surveys including the opinions of migrants would reflect that integration is a long-term process involving all citizens and residents. The 2008 LFS module could be repeated on a regular basis (so as to build a longitudinal perspective) and Member States are encouraged to retain the questions used in the ad-hoc module in their annual surveys.
  • The EU could sponsor one-off representative surveys among immigrants or go further by sustaining a longitudinal survey of immigrants arriving at the same time in the EU but settling in different Member States. These surveys reveal what factors (including policy and services) influence the pace and quality of immigrants’ settlement and participation at different life stages.
  • The socio-economic indicators to measure progress made with the implementation of the Lisbon Integrated Guidelines on Jobs and Growth should be made more specific to migration and integration than is currently the case. Typical justice and home affairs indicators can be drawn up helping to make and measure progress on the implementation of the Integrated Guidelines as well as the Common Basic Principles on Migration and Integration (admission, residence, citizenship).
  • These indicators can then be used to formulate targets in core areas of integration. When the aim is to have equal outcomes for citizens, immigrants and refugees, consideration should be given to their different starting points and individual characteristics. In this way tailor-made policies to increase skills and competences of persons and organisations can be designed (and exchanged between Member States).
  • Monitoring the situation of immigrants and refugees (nationals and foreign-born) could be made compulsory and could provide a basis for standard-setting and benchmarking exercises. Consideration should be given to the different starting positions of Member States. In this way learning from best practice can be organised.
  • The EU Commission could publish an annual report summarising its own activities and that of the Member States in fields relevant to integration. It could set high quality standards for policies and implementation (input and performance indicators) and results (outputs and outcomes).

This paper is a follow-up to a background paper prepared for the conference ‘Indicators and Experiences in Monitoring Integration Policy’, organised by the German Commissioner for Migration, Refugees and Integration (Berlin, Federal Chancellery, 15 – 16 June 2009)

Publications Details

Issued on

Diversity & Integration Portal

European indicators of migrant integration