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Analysis and Conclusions

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Part of the IMISCOE Research Series book series (IMIS)


This chapter recaps the main findings of this volume, which has taken stock of existing research on integration processes and policies in Europe. It summarizes what research says about integration processes, in particular, the relevance of actors in origin countries for integration. A few general conclusions are drawn. First, integration policies—or policies under the flag of integration—have developed at many levels of government: nationally, locally, regionally, and at the supra-national level of the European Union. This last is a relative newcomer, but an increasingly important platform for all. “Multilevelness” is a characteristic that will remain influential into the future. Second, a multitude of stakeholders has become involved in integration as policy designers and implementers. These include not only governmental and quasi-governmental actors but also immigrant collectives, civil society, social partners, and nongovernmental agents. They bring to the policymaking table quite different views on what integration is, what integration policies should promote, and who needs what assistance in the integration process. Finally, the European Commission’s shift from a definition of integration as a two-way process to a three-way process is found to reflect mainly an effort 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 Migration & Development. Policies in these three fields had previously developed simultaneously but separately. Thus a logic of policymaking—and not an evidence-based scientific argument—can be said to underlie the European Commission’s redefinition of integration.


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This state-of-the-art volume taking stock of and presenting existing research on integration processes and policies in Europe was triggered by European Union (EU)-level policymaking on integration. A 2011 European Commission policy document proposes that integration policies should involve not only immigrants and the society of settlement but also actors in immigrants’ countries of origin (EC 2011). Compared to the Commission’s earlier definition of integration (EC 2003), this constituted a shift from a two-way to a three-way process approach. The current volume has reformulated the EU’s policy shift into a broader question for academia and integration research: What does research have to say about (the study of) integration processes and, in particular, about the relevance of actors in origin countries for integration? What does the existing literature say about integration policies in Europe and use of the concept of integration in policy formulation and practice? Does the proposal to include actors in countries of origin as important players in integration policies find legitimation in empirical research?

With the purpose of answering these questions, we asked experts in the relevant subfields to write state-of-the-art chapters. Chapter 2, by Penninx and Garcés-Mascareñas, examined development of the concept of integration in the academic study of settlement processes of migrants and in policies. Chapter 3, by Van Mol and De Valk, analysed changes in migration patterns and characteristics of immigrants as a potential explanatory factor for changes in integration processes and policies. Chapters 4, 5 and 6 covered basic aspects of policy development: Doomernik and Bruquetas-Callejo wrote on national policies of EU countries, Scholten and Penninx analysed the multilevel governance of migration and integration, and Mügge and Van der Haar scrutinized the categorization and target groups of policies. The following Chaps. 7, 8, 9 and 10 shifted the focus to migrants’ countries of origin and the relevance of these for immigrants’ integration: Mügge took stock of the transnational activities of individual migrants and the relation of these to integration; Van Ewijk and Nijenhuis reviewed the literature on transnational–local relations and the role of migrant organizations, as well as the relation of these with integration; and Østergaard-Nielsen outlined how governments of countries of origin relate to their citizens abroad and what this could potentially mean for their integration. Finally, King and Collyer examined the migration–development nexus in search of a possible relation between it and immigrant integration.

How do these elements of analysis come together to answer the questions posed above? This final chapter first considers how the concept of integration has been (and can be) used as an analytical tool in academic research on integration processes of immigrants. Second, it reviews the way integration as a concept has been used in policies at various levels. This leads into an analysis of how integration is perceived by actors at different levels in origin countries. These steps enable us to draw some final conclusions on the European Commission’s proposal to move from a two-way to a three-way process approach.

The Concept of Integration

Integration is a rather specific post-war European term. As a field of research, the study of settlement processes of immigrants in Europe has an ambivalent relation with an earlier tradition of settlement studies: that in the USA. Europe borrowed from North America the essential framing of such studies, as how immigrants as newcomers find their place in the society in which they settle. Yet, the concept of assimilation that was developed by US researchers was rejected in Europe as lopsided in two respects: (i) in seeing the process of settlement as primarily one in which newcomers undergo a progression of cultural change and (ii) in seeing settlement as a linear process towards assimilation in mainstream society.

The concept of integration as it developed in European research during the past half century remained focused on the settlement of newcomers, but became more complex and rich. First, research on integration looked systematically at both the society of settlement and at immigrants as the two parties involved in the settlement process, often recognizing a dominance of the receiving society in this process. Second, research spelled out several dimensions of the integration process: the legal/political, the socioeconomic, and the cultural/religious.

The legal/political dimension of integration was exhaustively studied in two main respects. First, studies explored the legal status attributed by admission policies and the consequences of that status (or the absence thereof) for integration. Second, immigrants’ participation in politics (or the lack of such participation) was investigated in the broadest sense, with this second strand of research often labelled citizenship studies.

In the socio economic dimension, research looked at the position of immigrants in key fields of societal stratification: work and income, education, housing, and health. Where the benchmarks were natives or non-immigrants, these studies were called equality studies. If they were longitudinal within a group, they were labelled (intergenerational) social mobility studies.

In the cultural/religious dimension, study of the cultural and religious adaptation of newcomers has long been central. Nowadays, however, the perception and acceptance of newcomers by natives has become increasingly important. Immigrants’ culture and religion are, furthermore, studied as collective phenomena, as is the political and societal organization of cultural and religious diversity and its recognition in the society of settlement. This branch of research has been incorporated under equity studies.

The study of integration has also gained by distinguishing between levels at which integration processes take place and by studying the different mechanisms involved. Firstly, there is the micro-level of individual immigrants and their households and kin, and the comparable micro-level of native individuals in the society of settlement, with research examining how they perceive and react to one another. Secondly, there is the level of collectivities of both immigrant groups and natives and how they relate to each other. Thirdly, there is the level of institutions, both general institutions relevant to all residents and specific ones of and for immigrants.

Chapter 2 traced the development of the concept of integration as a rich analytical tool with great potential, particularly when it is used in combination with systematic comparisons. This tool can also serve to map and look critically at integration research in Europe. In a review of the state of the art of European research on integration, Penninx et al. (2006) observe that most studies are strongly embedded in national contexts. Furthermore, they note that European research on migration and integration has been fragmented in three ways: a lack of comparative research, a lack of cooperation among disciplines, and a lack of integration of the different levels at which phenomena are studied.

In recent years, significantly more international comparative research has been accomplished, often financed by the EU, remedying to some extent the methodological nationalism (Wimmer & Glick Schiller 2002) that went hand-in-hand with a strong embeddedness of research in the national (policy) arena. Such comparisons may also help to overcome space-based forms of fragmentation by including more than one spatial unit (e.g., a borough, city, region, nation state, or supra-national or international arena). While the nation state was dominant in research from the beginning, there is now a growing body of research on both the local and the international and supra-national levels. The relations between these levels and the complex ways in which they influence each other, however, have yet to be explored.

At the same time, fragmentation continues. Divisions are still strong along disciplinary lines, with particularly legal and economic studies remaining largely autonomous and employing self-contained approaches. Furthermore, new fragmentation has arisen, for example, in specializations within the three dimensions of integration sketched above, such as citizenship studies, equality and social mobility studies, racism and xenophobia studies, and equity studies. Such specializations do have merit, as they deepen insights on the specific dimension concerned; but they may also bypass the larger integration picture. Holistic studies that take all three dimensions into account and look at interrelations between them are rare, though much needed for further theoretical development.

The Concept of Integration in Policies

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.

Integration from the Perspective of Origin Countries

The fact that it was primarily a policymaking logic that guided the redefinition of integration from a two-way to a three-way process does not necessarily mean that there is no scientific basis in support of such a shift. Chapters 7, 8, 9 and 10 sought empirical answers to a number of questions relevant in this regard: How is integration viewed by actors in the countries of origin? To what extent and how do countries of origin contribute to immigrants’ integration? Can integration in the country of destination be expected to contribute to development in the country of origin?

Migrants’ Transnational Activities

A first way of answering such questions is to look systematically from the perspective of migrants themselves. Transnational studies decouple the concept of integration from its unique immigrant and society of settlement frame, looking at it instead as a process that takes place simultaneously in the country of settlement, (still) in the country of origin, and possibly even within a transnational community that is located in neither of the two.

Actors and policymakers within migrant receiving countries may not always accept such a frame shift (and in the politicized contexts of Europe it may increasingly be rejected). The double or triple orientation is also seen as problematic in national(istic) thinking, which deems it “disloyal” to the nation and an “abuse” of the welfare state. Moreover, energy spent in transnational activities may be perceived and defined—based on a zero-sum assumption—as being at the expense of integration efforts in the country of settlement. Nonetheless, from the perspective of migrants, simultaneous integration and participation in these different worlds is not problematic. Indeed, it is unavoidable, as Mügge’s inventory of transnational activities in Chap. 7 indicates. The assumption that a transnational orientation and activities may come at the expense of integration (efforts) in the country of settlement has no basis in empirical research. On the contrary, there is ample evidence that transnational orientations and activities may co-exist with integration in the country of settlement without negative effects on one another. Though conclusions are based on a still limited number of case studies, for certain migrants transnational activities and integration may even reinforce each other.

Mügge (in this volume) points out that the same capital that equips immigrants for transnationalism may facilitate their structural integration in the receiving society too. She observes that (i) economic integration of migrants in the settlement country is an important condition for remittances; (ii) the more financial, social, and political capital immigrants have (acquired), the more capable they may be of developing transnational activities; and (iii) political transnational activities are very much shaped by the political opportunity structure of the country of settlement. Alternatively, feelings of exclusion in the homeland may foster integration in the host country while factual exclusion of migrants from politics in the homeland may trigger more radical forms of transnationalism to change the situation in the homeland. Either way, homeland developments seem to be decisive for the form and direction of both integration and transnationalism.

Migrant Organizations, NGOs, and Local Governments

Transnational studies also demonstrate that more and more relations are developing between countries of settlement and countries of origin at the local level, through local authorities on both sides and through immigrant organizations. These studies have found that immigrants identify more easily with the local level and that local governments present themselves as more open to migrants’ transnational affiliations. Van Ewijk and Nijenhuis, in Chap. 8, describe the efforts of local authorities to promote engagement of migrants in international cooperation projects as a means of positively impacting their integration in destination societies. This perspective renders the concept of integration rather participatory with an important entrepreneurial component, which supposedly has a social function and promotes social cohesion at the local level.

Van Ewijk and Nijenhuis also point to the mushrooming numbers of co-development programmes, aimed at linking immigrants and immigrant organizations with hometowns in origin countries for the purpose of development projects. These again seem clearly related to and embedded in integration policies at the local level. While the literature seems to confirm a positive correlation between engagement in international exchange programmes and becoming more active in the receiving society, the authors also conclude that the extent and nature of local-to-local projects and relationships are very much dependent on policies and available funding opportunities in destination countries.

Governments of Origin Countries

Sending countries have increasingly developed policies to bond with their citizens abroad. Østergaard-Nielsen (Chap. 9) suggests that such policies involve the economic/socio-economic, the political, and the cultural/religious dimensions, often in combination. Motivations of origin-country governments for such activities may vary but the integration of their citizens in the country of settlement can ultimately only be a topic if the interests of the country of origin are served through its migrants. The specific content of what integration then should mean was well expressed by Turkish Prime Minister Erdoğan, who during a visit in Germany called for a ‘better integration of Turks in Germany’, meaning essentially better economic opportunities ‘but not assimilation’. These workers should, he said, continue to be ‘ambassadors for Turkey’, to speak Turkish, to vote for him as the new President of Turkey, to be good Muslims, and to contribute to the economic development of Turkey.

While the strengthening of upward social mobility of emigrants in their countries of residence is usually interpreted as a win-win scenario for both sending countries and immigrants, it is still difficult to assess the exact impact of sending country policies on both migrant transnationality and migrant processes of settlement. First, it is difficult to determine to what extent emigrant state efforts to bond with their non-resident citizens are directly responsible for migrant transnational practices related to their country of origin. Second, it is difficult to determine the real impact of these policies on immigrants’ integration in the societies of settlement. In both respects, Østergaard-Nielsen (Chap. 9 in this volume) notes that emigrants and diasporas may not immediately respond to sending countries’ outreach. Moreover, she observes, it remains to be seen whether and to what extent European governments actually do move away from the zero-sum discourse and securitization optic on migrant transnationality towards the more integrated three-way approach envisioned by the European Commission.

The M&D Nexus

The overall approach to migration and development seems to have fluctuated, according to King and Collyer in Chap. 10. Different understandings abound of the nature, forms, and processes of development, migration, and integration, in both applied and in theoretical terms. History has been marked by a series of “pendulum movements” from optimistic to pessimistic scenarios, depending more on the political assumptions of the time than the concrete empirical evidence at hand. Since the late 1990, a new favourable context has been born, pushing an optimistic upswing of the pendulum. The accompanying view is that migration could and should be turned in a triple-win scenario for all: the countries of origin, the countries of destination, and the migrants themselves. A number of elements has contributed to this perspective: the global acceleration of migration and shift to more fluid forms of mobility (see Van Mol & De Valk in this volume), the rise of immigrants’ organizations in both places of origin and destination (see Mügge, and Van Ewijk and Nijenhuis in this volume), and the birth of an institutional framework at the global level within which countries of origin have been drawn and developed clout (e.g., the Global Commission on International Migration, the United Nations High-Level Dialogue on Migration and Integration, and the Global Forum on Migration and Development).

But how and where does integration come into this M&D approach? In principle, integration could come into the picture if we adopted the concept of transnational mobility (instead of migration) and shifted the focus to migrants’ integration in the place of origin, the place of destination, and possibly also the transnational community (instead of the classic framing of integration as a process involving migrants and the receiving society). From this perspective, the settlement of immigrants could be studied empirically in all of its dimensions (economic, social, cultural, and political) to assess as an open question whether it results in immigrants’ integration or the opposite. However, such a new approach to integration does not exist (yet).

From the M&D perspective, two concrete questions on integration then remain. The first is how does integration impact on migrants’ capacity to stimulate development in the countries of origin. Though much more research is still needed, some studies show that (successful) integration in the destination country is not necessarily a zero-sum game but rather a condition for successful integration in the country of origin. Chapters 7 and 8 both reach this conclusion in very similar wordings. The second question is what meaning does integration in the destination country have for immigrants’ reintegration in the country of origin. Research presented in this volume suggests that there are many patterns of return and reintegration, resulting from the fact—among others—that integration is just one of the multiple factors that determine reintegration chances and challenges. The literature seems to suggest that a return of failure (which can be interpreted as failed integration in the destination country) might be a predictor of a failed reintegration, particularly when development criteria are part of the reintegration concept. The so-called “return of innovation” seems to correlate with previous successful integration in the country of destination.

From a Two-Way to a Three-Way Process Conception of Integration

The European Commission has proposed a new way of looking at the integration process of immigrants in European societies—though by “immigrants” the Commission means third-country nationals (TCNs) only. The Commission’s shift in thinking can best be understood within the logic of EU-level policy development on migration and integration and the M&D framework. Furthermore, creation of new institutional structures—bilateral ones between emigration and immigration countries, as well as those at the EU level and globally—has led to new policy initiatives by which different topics, actors, and interests have been brought to the table in relation to each other. Although the outcome of these developments is still uncertain, one could interpret them as a step forward towards better multilevel governance. It is questionable, however, to what extent these new policy developments should go under the flag of integration policies targeting immigrants in European countries.

We established that the political process has been the driving force behind the incorporation of the countries of origin as a third actor in the concept of immigrants’ integration. There is no indication in the European Commission documents that research or any form of academic advice played a role in the proposal and in the argumentation used. When asked, researchers working in various subfields of immigration, integration, transnationalism, and the M&D nexus could not determine on an empirical basis the exact role of countries of origin in immigrants’ integration and vice versa. What does clearly emerge is the relevance of integration for development in the countries of origin. Furthermore, transnational studies point to the need to look simultaneously at immigrants’ integration (or lack thereof) in the place of origin, place of destination, and possibly also within a socially-relevant transnational migrant community. From this perspective more research is needed to assess whether and how these processes of integration relate to each other.Open Access This chapter is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial License, which permits any noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and source are credited.


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Penninx, R., Garcés-Mascareñas, B. (2016). Analysis and Conclusions. In: Garcés-Mascareñas, B., Penninx, R. (eds) Integration Processes and Policies in Europe. IMISCOE Research Series. Springer, Cham.

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