Refugee Integration in Bulgaria 2019: A Comprehensive Monitoring Report

    Bistra Ivanova
    Panayot Chafkarov
    Multi Kulti Collective
  • ISBN
    European Commission, Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund

    Refugee Integration in Bulgaria 2019: A Comprehensive Monitoring Report is developed in the framework of the National Integration Evaluation Mechanism project (NIEM). The report aims to present in-depth data on the quality of the legal framework and policies in support of the long-term integration of beneficiaries of international protection (BIPs) in Bulgaria and to analyse their implementation and the effects on the target group. 

    This report covers the period 1 April 2017 – 31 March 2019

    This is comparative research across 14 EU Member States – Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden. The research under NIEM assumes that integration is a responsibility of the state, while NGOs and EU funds have a supporting role. This is why it evaluates solely the activities funded by the state budget. 

    The cross-country comparison covers 12 dimensions: 

    • Mainstreaming
    • Residency 
    • Family reunification 
    • Access to citizenship 
    • Housing 
    • Employment 
    • Vocational training and employment-related education 
    • Health 
    • Social security 
    • Education 
    • Language learning and social orientation 
    • Building bridges 

    The NIEM methodology uses qualitative and quantitative methods. It basically consists of a complex system of over 160 indicators – a tool for scoring the performance of each state in the 12 dimensions of integration of BIPs, which allows objective measuring, comparing, monitoring progress, etc. 

    The report methodology introduces an additional perspective for addressing integration: three stepstones with the following focus: 

    1. Setting the legal framework; 
    2. Building the policy framework; 
    3. Implementation and collaboration. 

    The above differentiation is yet another instrument whereby, in addition to verifying the existence of certain legislation and policies, an analysis can be made of how efficient they are in terms of their application, and, respectively, in terms of specific positive outcomes for the end beneficiaries. 

    The scoring by the various indicators and dimensions is based on a standardized questionnaire and evaluation by means of a scoring system. This approach allows maximum objectivity and a cross-country comparison based on specific, measurable data and facts. The maximum number of points is 100. In order to assess these scores, 4 broad ranges have been determined on a scale whereby the existence or absence of a legal framework, policies or practice is assessed: critically lacking (score below 25), marginally supportive (score below 50), moderately supportive (score below 75) and broadly supportive (score up to 100). 

    Key results 2019: 

    • Weak dynamics. One of the key conclusions from the 2019 research is that the development in the relevant countries is not dynamic, and they generally maintain results similar to the 2017 ones. BIPs rarely benefit from entirely favourable conditions. The biggest differences among the countries concern the policies aimed at actively encouraging integration; mainstreaming in long-term integration; cooperation among various stakeholders. Most governments do not have close collaboration with the local authorities and NGOs in the process of policy development. The funding of local authorities and NGOs is a serious issue. 
    • Improved cooperation as a result of development only in several countries. The only definitely positive development has been observed in respect of the step collaboration. A more in-depth analysis shows that this has resulted from targeted reforms in several countries – in particular, France and Lithuania, and, to a lesser extent, Latvia and Slovenia. 
    • The differences between recognised refugees and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection have not diminished. The research reveals that the substantial differences between recognised refugees and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection have not diminished. The dimensions in which the gaps are most tangible are residency, family reunifications and citizenship. Against the background of overall stagnation, 2 countries stand out with positive changes – France and Poland, and 1 country where the situation has even worsened – Italy. 
    • Few countries show positive development, some show a setback and the majority show inaction. The evaluation for only 3 countries – France, Latvia and Slovenia – illustrates substantial development in terms of their results. For another 3 – Romania, Hungary and Italy – the evaluation points to deterioration. As for the remaining ones, either minor or no changes are observed. 
    • Diverging standards among the sectors persist, the progress in some being at the expense of a setback in others. The dimensions with the most positive dynamics are social security, employment, health and education. The dimensions with the strongest deterioration are residency, housing and health. The most unfavourable conditions in all the countries have been identified in housing, employment, and vocational training. 
    • Bulgaria maintains its profile of a country with an overall unfavourable environment for integration. During the period considered, Bulgaria has not made any considerable progress in terms of the legal framework, policies and implementation in support of refugees’ integration. The most favourable dimensions are: family reunification, mainstreaming, and education, and the most unfavourable ones are: language learning and social orientation, building bridges and citizenship. 

    The National Integration Evaluation Mechanism (NIEM) project has been implemented by Multi Kulti Collective and the Bulgarian Council on Refugees and Migrants in partnership with UNHCR, with co-funding from the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund of the European Union.