This paper gives an overview of the current integration standards established within the Common European Asylum System and highlights the possible effects of the changing EU and national legal environment on the integration of beneficiaries of international protection. These integration standards are the starting point of the development of the integration indicators within the project “National Integration Evaluation Mechanism” (NIEM), which aims to support key integration and social actors in 14 EU Member States and Turkey to evaluate and improve the integration outcomes of beneficiaries of international protection.
The EU’s greatest impact on the integration of beneficiaries of international protection has been through the stable legal framework of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS). The recast Asylum Procedures, Reception Conditions, Qualification and Family Reunification Directives all build on the standards set by the 1951 Geneva Convention and aim for its full and effective implementation. They set a series of standards that shape the integration process, starting from the reception phase until the full legal, socio-economic and socio-cultural integration allowing refugees to realise their full potential to contribute to society. These binding legislative acts are complemented by the Common Basic Principles for Immigrant Integration Policy in the EU and its re-affirmation, 10 Years On, which guide Member States on how to respond to the needs and opportunities that beneficiaries of international protection bring to their new homes.
However, in the past year, the emergence and strengthening of exclusionary, anti-migrant narratives has threatened to undermine national – and now the EU’s – stable legal framework and level of ambition to promote refugee integration. The negative political discourse induced a surprisingly coordinated race-to-the-bottom reply at national level, whose approach is reflected in the most recent European Commission Communication “Towards a Reform of the European Common Asylum System and Enhancing Legal Avenues to Europe”. This document shows a fundamental change in the approach towards beneficiaries of international protection. These proposals reframe the logic of asylum to a more temporary legal status in its nature and have more often recourse to the cessation clause, without assessing the long-term consequences: how will it affect the integration of beneficiaries of international protection?
 Council of the European Union, Justice and Home Affairs, Immigrant Integration Policy in the European Union – Council Conclusions, 19 November 2004, 14615/04 (Press 321)
 Council of the European Union, Justice and Home Affairs, Council conclusions of the Council and the Representatives of the Governments of the Member States on the integration of third-country nationals legally residing in the EU, 5 and 6 June 2014
 Ibid, p. 5.: “The EU has one of the most protective and generous asylum systems in the world, and the granting of international protection status in EU Member States has in practice almost invariably led to permanent settlement in the EU, while its original and primary purpose was to grant protection only for so long as the risk of persecution or serious harm persists. Once the circumstances in the country of origin or the situation of an applicant change, protection is no longer needed. However, although the Qualification Directive contains provisions on cessation of status, currently they are not systematically used in practice.”