Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Integrating immigrants: New Study ranks countries in Europe, including on citizenship and political participation, anti-discrimination

28 February 2011 -- A new study published today by the British Council and the Migration Policy Group shows that great disparities exist in how Europe is integrating its 20 million immigrants legally residing in the region.

The Migrant Integration Policy Index (MIPEX: www.mipex.eu) contrasts and compares integration policies across 31 countries in Europe and North America. Results show that while change is happening at a very slow pace, there are still many obstacles to how immigrants live, work and participate in our societies.

The study benchmarks whether governments grant equal rights, responsibilities, and opportunities for all residents – international standards that have been agreed upon by EU Member States.2 These high standards are critical as successful integration helps create more competitive and cohesive societies.3 The major findings in this study include:

Political Participation / Citizenship

* Generally, migrants are still discouraged from becoming politically active or gaining full citizenship, although the trend in reforming countries is to open voting rights, dual nationality and birthright citizenship (e.g. Portugal, Greece, Luxembourg).

Education

* Policies are generally failing to address the needs of a new generation of diverse students with few schools required to help teachers, migrant students, and parents address migrants’ specific needs. However there are several countries that are leading in this area (e.g. the Nordic countries, USA and Canada).

Labour Mobility

* Most countries guarantee equal and secure rights to work for reunited families and long-term residents. However they are asked to fulfil more requirements that many nationals could not (income, age limits, tests without support to pass).
* Nearly all countries guarantee legal migrants equal working conditions and access to unions once they begin working. But nearly half exclude migrant workers, who pay full taxes, from parts of the social security system.

Anti-discrimination

* Anti-discrimination laws are being strengthened in many countries (e.g. Sweden and the UK) although very few have strong policies and bodies to promote equality in society.

Overall, countries tend to score around 50 on the MIPEX 100-point scale and since the second edition of MIPEX have only increased 1 point on average. Most countries are creating as many opportunities as obstacles for immigrants to become equal members of society.

“With the third phase of MIPEX research we aim to provide reliable information to governments, civic institutions and the wider public to compare migrant integration policies across countries and over time. This will encourage more informed discussion on best practice and enable better future policies “
Rosemary Hilhorst OBE, Regional Director EU Europe, British Council

“Over the years the MIPEX continues to be a valuable tool for mapping and assessing existing integration policies in the European Union. I am pleased to support this initiative […] it is worthwhile to note that many Member States generally perform better in terms of migrant integration policies in those areas where Union law exists.”
Cecilia Malmström, European Commissioner for Home Affairs

For further information on the study or to interview Rosemary Hilhorst, Regional Director EU Europe, British Council please contact David Sorrentino on +32 (0) 2 554 0465. For more about MIPEX and to use the online tool: www.mipex.eu