Migration integration: Sweden on top, on the bottom – Latvia

Do you want to know how your country scores? Have a look at the 2015 Migrant Integration Policy Index (MIPEX) launched by Migration Policy Group.

MIPEX is a useful tool that explains the situation in each European country and the data is comparable. It includes concrete policy recommendations to decision-makers and has received high-level support, including  from the Minister of Integration in Portugal and Spain; both countries made commitments to improve their situation once they learnt of their MIPEX rating.

The index looks at eight policy areas:

  1. Labour market mobility
  2. Education
  3. Political participation
  4. Access to nationality
  5. Family reunion
  6. Permanent Residence
  7. Health (a new addition this year)

The study is particularly relevant in a Europe that is currently changing; whereas most migrants who came to the EU used to be in search of labour, the majority are now seeking humanitarian protection. Since 2008 and the financial crisis, non-EU citizens are twice as likely to experience poverty and social exclusion than EU citizens. Far-right parties have gained power across the EU, and the general public are uninformed and over-estimate the number of migrants. A drop in a country’s MIPEX score usually signals a rise in anti-immigration attitudes and the success of far-right parties. While migrants are seen as contributing to society in Sweden, they are seen as a threat in Latvia. Although some member states have integration policies in place the outcomes are not always clear.

Immigrants are treated as “permanently temporary” in member states that discourage integration. In other countries immigrants are considered to be “second class citizens”, and if lucky they may have migrated to a country where they have the chance to become long-term residents, naturalised or “quick citizens”.

MIPEX has identified the strengths and obstacles for integration in Europe:

  • “The greatest areas of strength are that migrant workers, reunited families and permanent residents enjoy basic security, rights and protection from discrimination. Within Europe, national policies are more strong and similar in these areas covered by EU law.”
  • “The greatest obstacles are for foreign citizens to become citizens or politically active and for mainstream services to guarantee equal access and opportunities for immigrants (targeted employment, education and health support). In Europe, policies are generally weaker and divergent in these areas of national policy.”