The development of the concept of integration in policies (i.e., the specific meaning that is given explicitly or implicitly to integration in policy formulation and practice) must be understood against the backdrop of immigration’s framing in Europe. Here again, the transcontinental comparison between Europe and North America accentuates the differences. While the USA and Canada define themselves as countries built by immigration and immigrants, North-Western European countries in the post-war period did exactly the opposite. Their guest worker policies set out to attract hands for their booming economies but on a temporary basis, ideally without guest workers’ families and with an explicit expectation of return. From this perspective, there was no need for integration policies in the legal/political and cultural/religious sense, and integration in the socioeconomic dimension was pursued only as far and as long as required by immigrants’ presumably temporary stay.
National Integration Policies
Since the 1970s, and particularly after labour migration stopped in the mid-1970s, a contradiction has grown between the facts of immigration and countries’ self-perceived norm of not being a nation of immigration. In a few countries this tension led to comprehensive integration policies pertaining not only to the socioeconomic domain but also the political and cultural spheres. Sweden started such integration policies in 1975 (Hammar 2004) and the Netherlands followed suit in the early 1980s (Penninx 1981). However, most national governments in Europe maintained the illusion of immigrants’ temporariness and return up to the late 1990s and 2000s, therefore confining themselves to ad hoc adaptive measures. In practice, this left the responsibility for integration to the local level of cities and to parties in civil society such as trade unions, churches, and welfare organizations (Penninx 2005).
When the increasingly politicized climate of the late 1990s and early 2000s pushed for the implementation of integration policies at the national level, the term integration started to acquire a different meaning. Whereas early policy conceptions such as those used in Sweden and the Netherlands had been rights-based, aimed at structural integration in the socioeconomic domains and framed in a liberal cultural atmosphere (later called “multicultural”), the new approach focused increasingly on the cultural dimension of integration as an obligation of immigrants, as cultural and value-based commonalities were thought to be essential for social cohesion. Acquisition of national citizenship—promoted in early Swedish and Dutch policies as an instrument that would facilitate structural integration—was increasingly redefined as the crown on a finalized process of cultural adaptation. This new cultural conception of integration policies went hand in hand with a redefinition of the identity of North-Western European countries. The claims and outcomes of discussions on the “identity” of receiving societies (as modern, liberal, democratic, laïcist, equal, enlightened, etc.) were translated into civic integration requirements for immigrants and civic integration courses of an assimilative nature. The latest development—compulsory pre-immigration courses, such as those developed in the Netherlands—extends this logic even further. Under the label of integration, such courses actually function as instruments to make immigration more restrictive and selective (Guild et al. 2009).
The picture thus sketched is one that holds for the “first generation immigration countries” in North-Western Europe. As Doomernik and Bruquetas-Callejo assert in Chap. 4 of this volume, this North-Western European model became dominant and influential, as the immigration regulations of these countries became the formal standard for the EU and, through the acquis, the blueprint for all EU countries that acceded later. Similarly, these same countries tried in the 2000s to transpose their new national integration policies and civic integration courses to the European level as exemplary for other EU countries (Goeman 2012). Notwithstanding these pressures, quite different immigration and integration policies developed in practice in the “second generation immigration countries”, particularly in Southern Europe. Most immigration to those countries has been legalized ex-post by regularizations. Integration measures and policies have been initiated since the mid-1990s, predominantly at the local and regional levels, based on rights of access to important social services irrespective of one’s immigrant status. Such local policies have aimed primarily at insertion of migrants into the labour market and were embedded in a liberal cultural atmosphere that has tended to use interculturality as a strategy.
Doomernik and Bruquetas-Callejo note a third model of integration policies emerging in the Central and East European member states. There the number of immigrants is still low and immigration and integration issues are not high political priorities. Mostly supported by European funding, civil society actors, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and local authorities have developed reception and integration activities while pressuring national governments to develop integration policies.
Local Integration Policies
Local integration policies have been either in the shadow of national integration policies or developed independently in the absence of national policy. This is largely due to the fact that migration policies (decisions on who is allowed to enter and stay) are predominantly a national competence. If immigration policy is followed by a national integration policy, as happened early on in Sweden and the Netherlands, then local integration policies are stimulated and facilitated by these preceding national frameworks. This is why Dutch and Swedish cities have a relatively long history of local integration policies (Scholten et al. 2015; Penninx 2015). But, as we have seen, factual immigration is not necessarily followed by an integration policy at the national level. Most North-Western European countries did have sizeable immigration but did not develop national integration policies until the turn of the century. In the absence of national policies, many cities developed integration policies, to give just a few examples, Birmingham and Bradford in the UK, Berlin and Frankfurt in Germany, Vienna in Austria, and the cities of Zurich, Bern, and Basel in Switzerland (Penninx 2009).
Local integration policies became much more visible during the past decade. Cities organized themselves internationally in networks. These networks have been strongly supported and funded by the European Commission, and their activities have been studied extensively, often at the networks’ or the cities’ own request. Systematic comparison of local policies reveals significant variation in the framing of policies and in the meaning of integration underlying local policies. Some initiatives, such as the Intercultural Cities Network, focus strongly on the cultural dimension of integration, using diversity as a strength and diversity management as a strategy. Other cities have framed integration policies primarily as a socioeconomic issue, using antidiscrimination and equality as strategies and mainstreaming as their governance principle. Still other cities have stressed the participation dimension of integration, looking at accessibility and opportunity structures, on one hand, and active “citizenship” of immigrants, on the other. Some cities have even developed a local concept of citizenship, as opposed to national citizenship.
Whatever the history of local integration policies or their basic orientation, tensions have increasingly developed between the local and national levels. Some of these tensions may be attributable to the different views on how to implement immigration policies—restrictive or otherwise. For instance, how are government administrators to handle migrants’ illegality in practice? What are the consequences of implementing restrictions on access to facilities and services in the domains of employment, housing, education, and healthcare to combat illegal residence? Friction may also arise on the new civic integration courses and the increased cultural knowledge required for continued residence and naturalization. While national policies may be quite ideological, local practitioners typically seek more feasible solutions. Tensions also arise when the financing of integration facilities is at stake, particularly when national policies prescribe new actions but fail to deliver the financial and other resources needed to implement them.
EU Integration Policies
EU-level policies on migration are double-edged. EU citizens are granted full freedom of mobility within the EU, while common and restrictive immigration and asylum policies apply to third-country nationals (TCNs). This duality, established from the very beginning with the 1999–2004 Tampere Programme, had three important consequences for integration. First, integration policies at the EU level were aimed exclusively at TCNs while immigrants from within the EU were viewed as already integrated. Second, integration of TCNs was defined in a rather limited way in the early phase. As noted in the introduction to this book, EU policies started from the assumption that if the legal position of immigrants was equal to that of national citizens and if adequate instruments were in place to combat discrimination, then integration processes could be left to societal forces. The third consequence was that, unlike immigration policies, EU integration policies were defined as non-binding, consensus policies, since national governments wanted to retain sovereignty in key domains associated with immigrant integration.
In 2003, the European Commission formulated its first comprehensive and explicit view on integration policies based on a conceptualization of integration as a two-way process involving both immigrants and the receiving society. The Hague Programme (2004–2009) and the Stockholm Programme (2009–2014) marked a gradual expansion of the definition of immigrants’ integration, increasing the actors and stakeholders involved and the issues covered. This definitional expansion occurred along two main lines: an internal line and an external one.
The internal line encompasses two main national elements. First, more levels of integration governance were activated within destination countries. In this context, the networks of European cities that exchanged knowledge and best practices on integration policies (see Scholten et al. 2015), all funded by the European Commission, raised the visibility of local governmental actors. In countries such as Spain, regional-level governments also profiled themselves as important policymakers in the field of immigrant integration. The conceptualization of and interests around immigrants’ integration have differed, however, even across different government levels within the same country. Second, more and more stakeholders at all levels became involved in and mobilized for policies, including migrant organizations, human rights organizations, NGOs, and social partners.
The external line of expansion of the definition of immigrants’ integration occurred when actors and stakeholders in countries of origin came into the picture. This happened in two ways, stemming from quite different sources and interests. First, after the turn of the century new international initiatives—stemming from the renewed Migration and Development (M&D) perspective—sought to establish a regulatory framework for international migration that would render migration beneficial for countries of origin and destination as well as for migrants themselves (see King and Collyer in this volume). The Global Commission on International Migration, the High-Level UN Dialogues on Migration, and the Global Forum on Migration and Development created frameworks in which both countries of origin and countries of destination were represented and their interests balanced and coordinated. Both the EU and all major immigration countries in Europe were involved in these international developments.
A second way in which countries of origin became involved derived from the increased difficulty experienced by European countries in controlling and regulating immigration without the help of countries of origin (and of countries of transit to Europe). Several European countries, such as Spain, established bilateral agreements with countries of origin in which cooperation on admission and, particularly, on return of irregular migrants was exchanged for development assistance or improved facilitation of regular migration—often temporary—to Europe (Garcés-Mascareñas 2012, 171–173). The terminology of co-development emerged in this context, combining the renewed M&D perspective with the immigration and integration policy interests of European countries. The EU became increasingly involved in such cooperation programmes, many of which included local governments and NGOs in countries of origin (see Chaps. 8 and 10 in this volume).
The renewed European Agenda for the Integration of Third-Country Nationals of 2011 proposed to anchor these two external lines of policy development in the integration agenda, thereby adding the countries of origin as a third key actor in the process of immigrants’ integration. As stated in the Commission document, ‘Countries of origin can have a role to play (...) in three ways: (1) to prepare the integration already before the migrants’ departure; (2) to support the migrants while in the EU, e.g. through support via the Embassies; (3) to prepare the migrant’s temporary or definitive return with acquired experience and knowledge’ (EC 2011, 10). The first element responds to the pre-migration courses and requirements that some European immigration countries have recently developed in order to anticipate integration of those still to be admitted. The second legitimizes and encourages support for migrants from countries of origin during their stay elsewhere, a practice that governments in countries of origin have developed more systematically in order to bond with their compatriots abroad (see Østergaard-Nielsen in this volume). The third seems to include in its euphemistical formulation only voluntary return of legal migrants, as such referring primarily to the re-migration and development theme. Yet, if we look at concrete policies and policy implementation, one might readily assume that involuntary return of irregular migrants constitutes an important part of this policy stream.
This brief analytic description leads us to a few general conclusions on the meaning of integration in policies in Europe. The first is that integration policies—or policies under the flag of integration—have developed at many levels of government: at the national level; at the local level of cities and municipalities; in some cases, at the level of (autonomous) regions or Länder; and at the supra-national level of the EU. This last is a relative newcomer, but nonetheless an increasingly important platform for all. This “multilevelness” is a characteristic that will be present in the future.
The second conclusion is that—partly parallel to governmental multilevelness—a multitude of stakeholders has become involved in integration as policy designers and implementers. This includes not only governmental and quasi-governmental actors but also and increasingly nongovernmental agents from immigrant collectives, civil society in general, social partners, and NGOs.
Both the vertical multilevelness of policies and the horizontal involvement of an increasing number and diversity of stakeholders bring more varied interests to the policy table. Such different interests may not always be aligned, and may even clash. They may also lead to quite different views on what integration is, what integration policies should promote, and who needs what assistance in the integration process. If multilevel governance is normatively defined as the process through which policymaking and policy implementation is coordinated vertically between levels of government and attuned horizontally across governmental and nongovernmental actors (see Scholten et al. 2015), we can then conclude that we have only just started out, and that much more multilevel governance is needed in practice in the field of integration.
Finally, our examination of the development of integration policies and definitions of integration at the EU level enable us to place in context the shift from the original definition of integration as a two-way process to the EU’s new definition of integration as a three-way process. That shift finds its legitimation primarily in efforts to bring together the policy activities of different parties (i.e., in countries of origin and destination) in the different but related fields of integration, immigration control, and M&D. Policies in these three fields had previously developed simultaneously but separately. It is the logic of policymaking—and not an evidence-based scientific argument—that has guided this redefinition.