European Involvement and Nascent Multilevel Governance

Besides the local turn in migrant integration policies, the past decade has also witnessed a gradually increasing involvement of the European level. Nonetheless, compared to the strong trend towards Europeanization that we found in the field of migration and asylum, the Europeanization of migrant integration has come much later and been more modest and hesitant (Goeman 2013). There is as yet no common European policy aimed at migrant integration. This reflects the persistence of the connection between migrant integration and the nation state. The way that countries integrate “their” migrants appears strongly related to conceptions of national identity, history, culture, and values and norms—especially since the “assimilationist turn” described above. Several steps have been taken towards greater EU involvement in this area. Some of these involve EU directives, primarily as a spin-off of the communitarization of immigration policies. Because of the binding effect of EU directives, one could say that they to some extent signal our top-down centralist model of migrant integration, as significant policymaking power is transferred to the EU level. Particularly important in this respect are two 2003 directives: the Directive on the Status of Non-EU Nationals Who Are Long-Term Residents, which provides a framework for policies toward third-country nationals in the EU, and the earlier-mentioned Directive on the Right to Family Reunification, which provides a framework for admittance of family migrants to the EU. Both directives have been influential as a framework for development of civic integration policies for thirdcountry nationals (many of whom are family migrants), as they stipulate what integration measures may be demanded of migrants.

An additional key area in which Europeanization has been significant is antidiscrimination policy. Two directives issued in 2000—the Racial Equality Directive and the Employment Equality Framework Directive—establish a binding structure within which member states can develop their anti-discrimination policies. These directives are yet another example of vertical venue shopping, as they were formulated in response to lobbying by the UK and Dutch governments in particular.

Besides such “hard” and “binding” measures, which may suggest an EU-centric approach (fitting our centralist type), specific frames and definitions have been developed and various non-binding measures put in place which can be described as softer or more open methods of coordination (see also Geddes and Scholten 2014b). In 2003, the European Commission formulated its first comprehensive view on integration policies in the Communication on Immigration, Integration and Employment (EC COM (2003) 336 final). It defines integration as 'a two-way process based on mutual rights and corresponding obligations of legally resident third country nationals and the host society which provides for full participation of the immigrant' (ibid.: 17). Integration is conceived as a 'balance of rights and obligations' (ibid.: 18). The holistic approach of policies encompasses all dimensions of integration, from economic, social, and political rights to cultural and religious diversity, citizenship, and participation.

In November 2004, the EU Conference of Specialised Ministers responsible for integration agreed on a set of 11 Common Basic Principles for Immigrant Integration Policy (CBP) as a first step towards a European framework for immigrant integration and a point of reference for implementation and evaluation of current and future integration policies. These principles define integration as a two-way process of accommodation and stress the importance of language, interaction, and participation. They furthermore call for the mainstreaming of migrant integration in other policy areas. Importantly, this step towards a more comprehensive framework was accompanied by continuation of the limited definition of the integration target group following directly from migration policies: integration policies are aimed at thirdcountry nationals only and do not target immigrants who are citizens (or long-term residents) of another EU member state. They are supposedly already integrated, by definition, though this assumption has been criticized by local authorities in regions that have received numerous immigrants from the EU's newest member states (e.g., Poland, Romania, and Bulgaria).

Although rather broad and not binding, the CBPs provide a foundation for more EU involvement in this policy area (primarily intergovernmentalist and thus, in the EU setting, fitting our “localist” type). Following the CBPs, the European Handbook on Integration was published in 2004. In 2005, the Common Agenda for Integration by the European Commission and The Hague Programme were formulated to promote implementation of the CBPs primarily via soft governance means like persuasion, networking, and exchange of best practices. In 2013 the Common Agenda for Integration was developed further into the European Agenda for the Integration of Third-Country Nationals, which stresses the importance of socioeconomic participation and the relevance of the local level in its promotion.

This evolving EU policy framework reflects the EU's distinctive internal organizational setting for integration policies. First, there is DG Freedom, Security and Justice (also responsible for migration policies), which targets particularly the early reception and integration of recent newcomers, of refugees and accepted asylum seekers, and also of third-country nationals until they have become long-term residents. It is in this particular part of EU policies that West European countries have increasingly “uploaded” their cultural integration requirements for new thirdcountry immigrants into EU integration policies (Goeman 2013). The second setting from which integration is promoted is DG Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities. Its programmes aim to promote social inclusion and cohesion. Its sizeable funding is—again—used quite extensively by local and regional authorities (and their policies) and by nongovernmental civil society partners at all levels. Equality and anti-discrimination are key concepts (for this reason the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) and its successor the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) were associated with this DG). Target groups include not only immigrants but also ethnic minorities and the disabled. Priority domains are equal access to and long-term integration in employment, education, housing, and health. The new Commission in place since autumn 2014 has complicated the picture even more: DG FSJ has been split into the DG Migration and Home Affairs (Immigration, Asylum, and Borders) and Justice and Consumers (Union Citizenship, Free Movement, Equality legislation, and Anti-discrimination).

In the absence of a clear division of formal policy competencies in the area of migrant integration, the very incremental Europeanization of this area of policy has been based on two main resources: expertise and cities (see also Penninx 2015). Regarding the first, migration scholars from the Netherlands and USA played a key role in formulation of the CBPs (ibid.). Furthermore, the EU has used various funding schemes to mobilize comparative research on policy topics that it considers relevant. From 2003 to 2006, this involved, in particular, the Integration of ThirdCountry Nationals (INTI) Fund and from 2007 to 2013 the European Integration Fund. As Geddes and Scholten (2014b) observe, the initial objective was mainly to promote the horizontal exchange of relevant information, knowledge, and policy best practices. Gradually, with the formulation of the CBPs and the Common Agenda for Integration, these funding schemes have increasingly mobilized expertise to help substantiate the nascent EU policy framework. A clear example in this respect is the EU-sponsored Migrant Integration Policy Index (MIPEX). Though first established to promote comparison and exchange of best practices, the MIPEX has evolved into a tool for monitoring member states' compliance with EU integration principles, enabling “naming and shaming” of those that do not comply. In the context of our discussion of multilevel governance, this bears out the potentially strategic role that knowledge and expertise can play in multilevel governance, acting in “soft” but sometimes impactful ways (open method of coordination), especially in the absence of more structural “vertical” relations between levels.

Regarding the second EU resource deployed in this area, European programmes have sought to establish a strong relation between the EU and the city level. It is in these efforts that, according to our typology, we can distinguish the contours of an emerging multilevel governance framework. With various means, including some of the funding schemes mentioned above, the European Commission in particular has actively promoted various city networks on a European scale. These networks primarily involve cross-national horizontal forms of cooperation between cities, but with strong connections to the Commission. One example is the CLIP Network (Cities for Local Integration Policies), which since 2006 has brought together some 30 European cities in conferences to systematically exchange knowledge and experience regarding local integration policies.

Integrating Cities is another network (also established in 2006) organized under the Eurocities' working group on migration and integration, a large network of some 140 major European cities. The Integrating Cities initiative includes a policy dialogue between Eurocities and the European Commission, a conference series, the Eurocities Charter on Integrating Cities, and other EU-funded projects.

Another example is Intercultural Cities, which is a joint activity of the Council of Europe and the European Commission. It emerged from the 2008 White Paper on Intercultural Dialogue contributed by the Council of Europe to the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue that same year. Intercultural Cities advocates pluralistic city identities that respect diversity. The Intercultural Cities Programme was developed and first applied in 11 European pilot cities and has since evolved. It has developed the Intercultural Cities Index for cities to evaluate and develop their policies, and it organizes international conferences for cities to exchange experiences.

Other more specifically horizontal cooperation initiatives have been undertaken as well, such as the European Coalition of Cities against Racism (ECCAR), established in 2004 at the initiative of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The aim of this coalition of cities is to share experiences in order to improve policies against racism, discrimination, and xenophobia. Some 104 municipalities from 22 European countries have joined the network and adopted its 10-point plan of action.

Besides making a direct connection between the nascent European policy framework on migrant integration and the local level of government, thereby constructing the most distinct multilevel governance structures in this area today, the focus on the local level also feeds into the local turn in migrant integration policy described above. Horizontal exchanges of knowledge and best practices between cities, promoted by the EU, has increased cities' entrepreneurship in developing their own integration philosophies. In a number of cases such integration philosophies encompass relations with cities from which migrants originated, as Chap. 10 will show. One might interpret this as the “three-way process” proposed by the European Commission in its 2011 European Agenda for the Integration of Third-Country Nationals, but one should be aware that the local policy actors involved might have quite different intentions and motives.

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