Monitoring Refugee Integration

Getting serious with refugee integration in Europe: The National Integration Evaluation Mechanism (NIEM) project
Monitoring and improving refugee integration

The National Integration Evaluation Mechanism (NIEM) is a six-years long transnational project which aims to prepare key actors in the integration field in 15 EU Member States to better face the current challenges and improve the integration outcomes of beneficiaries of international protection. NIEM will establish a mechanism for a biennial, comprehensive evaluation of the integration of beneficiaries of international protection to provide evidence on gaps in integration standards, identify promising practices and evaluate the effects of legislative and policy changes.

NIEM design: Evidence from policies on paper to outcomes in practice

NIEM is developing comprehensive, reliable and sustainable data collection methods on the integration of beneficiaries of international protection. It will provide evidence that can support the establishment of integration policies maximising the potential of newly arrived beneficiaries of international protection. More than 150 NIEM indicators build and expand on the current EU integration standards and cover different areas and types of expertise, various stakeholders and diverse types of evidence.

The NIEM indicators include the following major integration policy areas:

1. General conditions
a. Impact of reception on integration
b. Mainstreaming and integration governance
2. Legal integration
a. Residency
b. Family unity and reunification
c. Access to effective nationality
3. Socio-economic integration
a. Housing
b. Employment
c. Vocational training and employment-related education
d. Health
e. Public relief and social security
4. Socio-cultural integration
a. Children’s education
b. Language learning and social orientation
c. Building bridges and fostering participation

The wide range of indicators will allow NIEM to analyse the interlinkages among the accessibility and security of the residence permit for beneficiaries of international protection and their families and integration within the different socio-economic and socio-cultural fields.

Four types of indicators are used within each strand to offer comprehensive data on the efficiency of different integration policies:

1. Policy indicators: Are laws and policies in place to implement integration principles?
2. Administrative inputs: Has the government invested in the infrastructure to implement these policies and services in partnership with all relevant stakeholders (local authorities, social partners, NGOs)?
3. Financial inputs: Does the governments commit sufficient national resources and effectively use EU financial support?
4. Outcomes: Do beneficiaries of international protection who access and use these services have greater participation and well-being in society?

These four types of indicators offer a unique combination of input, policy (or sustainability) and outcome indicators which allows for anticipation and identification of the most pressing obstacles to integration, from the policies on the paper to the outcomes in practice and from the reception phase of asylum seekers to equal opportunities for beneficiaries of international protection.

NIEM also calls for the participation of different stakeholders – governments, local authorities, social partners and NGOs, as well as beneficiaries of international protection themselves. The indicators require the analysis of different types of evidence as well, including national statistics, quantitative and qualitative research, independent evaluation, internal audit and self-assessment.

The first two years of the project are dedicated to the creation of baseline reports, which will evaluate the current situation of the integration of beneficiaries of international protection in the 14 participating countries. A comparative European-level analysis interprets these country reports in a broader, EU-wide context. In order to monitor and evaluate the long-term effects of the current policy and legal changes and to draw conclusions for further action, the baseline reports will be followed by two evaluation rounds in 2019 and 2021.

From results to impact: Alliances for better refugee integration

To turn the results and evidence of NIEM into tangible and concrete improvements of integration of beneficiaries of international protection in the partner countries, each project partner establishes national coalitions. These national coalitions, involving representatives of public institutions, academia, NGOs, migrant organizations and beneficiaries themselves, will be aimed at:

• promoting NIEM and its outcomes in each participating country;
• tightening relations between key stakeholders, experts and practitioners; and
• monitoring the implementation of the recommendations and advocating for their mainstreaming in the participating countries.

In addition, an international NIEM coalition involving key European stakeholders will complement the national coalitions and advocate for the improvement of integration policies of beneficiaries of international protection on the EU level. Through this early and continuous involvement in the project activities of key stakeholders in integration policy and practice, the results of NIEM reports can contribute to the shaping of European and national policy solutions. Thus, NIEM will allow for ongoing adaptations of integration policies towards beneficiaries of international protection.

NIEM Partnership

NIEM is led by Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) in Warsaw. Migration Policy Group (MPG) is the coordinating research partner responsible for elaboration and further development of the NIEM indicators and the comprehensive comparative reports. Other strategic partners are the UNHCR Representation in Poland and UNHCR Regional Representation for Central Europe in Budapest, the Polish Ministries of Interior and Administration and of Family, Labour and Social Policy, and the University of Warsaw.

Project partners conducting research and organising national coalitions in the 15 partner countries:

Multi Kulti Collective – senior partner; Bulgarian Council on Refugees and Migrants – junior partner (Bulgaria)
People in Need (Czech Republic)
France Terre d’Asile (France)
ANTIGONE Information and Documentation Centre on Racism, Ecology, Peace and Non Violence (Greece)
Menedék – Hungarian Association for Migrants (Hungary)
Fondazione ISMU – Initiatives and Studies on Multi-ethnicity (Italy)
Providus (Latvia)
Diversity Development Group (Lithuania)
Maastricht University (Netherlands)
Institute of Public Affairs (Poland)
Centro de Estudos Sociais, University of Coimbra (Portugal)
The Foundation for an Open Society; The Centre for Public Innovation (Romania)
Peace Institute (Slovenia)
CIDOB – Barcelona Centre for International Affairs (Spain)
Malmö University (Sweden)

The UNHCR Representative in Bulgaria is official partner of the project.

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The project is co-financed by the European Union, Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund and by the Foundation Open Society Institute in cooperation with the OSIFE of the Open Society Foundations.