In a Communication released on 7 June 2016, the European Commission presented its Action Plan on the integration of third country nationals. As stated in the Communication, specific attention should be paid to newly-arrived refugees, who often face specific problems, such as vulnerability resulting from traumas, lack of documentation to prove their qualifications, inactivity prior to and during the asylum procedure, but also cultural and language barriers.

Providing integration support in the pre-arrival stage could be a measure specifically beneficial for refugees waiting to be resettled to European countries: acquiring knowledge about culture and traditions prior to the arrival would speed up the integration process in the new host societies. Integration measures during pre-arrival stage could include language and job-related training, but also the provision of country-specific information with a focus on cultural traditions and labour market orientation.

The Commission repeatedly mentions the fact that refugees have a positive impact on the gross domestic product (GDP) of individual Member States and the EU as a whole, provided that appropriate integration policies are put in place, an analysis also made by Philippe Lagrain. Countries welcoming a significant amount of refugees could easily foresee a rise in their GDP: for example, Germany could witness an increase of 0.4%-0.8% of its GDP by 2017. The Commission also issued a Staff Working Document, which clarifies that the macroeconomic effect of the arrival of refugees depends on how well and quickly they are integrated into labour markets.

Even though integration is primarily a competence for the individual Member States, the European Union tries to create incentives and offer support for Member States to further develop and strengthen their national integration policies.

This article appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 10 June 2016. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.