Challenges and opportunities in migrant integration


In this paper the authors from the FEPS YAN working group on migration analyse the social and labour mobility of migrants from various perspectives.



The first chapter of the paper acknowledges that the onset of the 2008/09 economic crisis has baffled European policymakers and societies with a question of whether to integrate or repatriate migrant populations, and how? While having pushed the question to the top of public agendas, the economic crisis has not been the main reason for the reassessment of migrant integration policies – the crisis of integration policies implemented so far has.  What policies should European countries consider to help migrants better cope with the negative effects of the crisis, including unemployment and xenophobia?

It consists of three parts. The first part will reconstruct the 2010 migrant-native population tensions in Rosarno. It will argue that the clashes in Rosarno could have been prevented if Italian authorities had facilitated migrants’ social and labor mobility so that like Italian citizens also migrants would not be tied to the jobs and geographical areas characterized by poor unionization and difficult working and living conditions. The second part will analyze Italian policy measures aimed to control irregular migration. It will focus on migrants who have lost their legal status while already in Italy.  It will argue that apart from being controversial in a democratic setting, forced repatriations have been logistically, financially and politically challenging. Voluntary returns, on the other hand, have not been comprehensive enough to encourage migrants to return. The paper will close suggesting that legalizations have been a positive starting point in the elaboration of sustainable migration policies, but need to be complemented by more comprehensive measures to ensure migrants’ labor and social mobility.

The second chapter emphasises that investigating the attainments of second-generation migrants is a key task for policy-makers of the EU, as it helps assess integration policies of member states for third-country nationals and their inclusion into society. Indeed, it is only with second generations and their transition to adulthood that a country can fully understand the outcomes - successes or failures - of its integration model. Understanding the phenomenon and its implications and promoting an inclusive policy approach looks even more crucial as a new second generation is growing up in recent immigration countries. Moreover, this issue is becoming pivotal as Europe is facing a deep economic and financial crisis which is also resulting in a crisis of its social model and in rising inequalities, including those affecting migrants.

After examining the theoretical background underlying the research on second-generation, the common findings of recent selected studies will be summarized, to see if it is possible to answer the following questions: what is the current situation across Europe? Is Europe doing enough to guarantee full social inclusion of second generations? Or are European second generations experiencing downward assimilation instead? Investigating these questions is crucial as they help European policy-makers assess if and to what extent there is progress towards a common space of social cohesion, ensuring equal opportunities for all, or if, instead, we are creating contrasts within our very societies, especially in a period of economic downturn. To this end, some policy implications in addressing second generations and their inclusion process will be discussed.


Background about the FEPS Young Academics Network

The two authors of this study are Laura CAROLI and Piotr PLEWA (See details in the PDF)

They are members of the Young Academics Network (YAN) which was established in March 2009 by the Foundation of European Progressive Studies (FEPS) with the support of the Renner Institut to gather progressive PhD candidates and young PhD researchers, who are ready to use their academic experience in a debate about the Next Europe. The founding group was composed of awardees of the “Call for Paper” entitled “Next Europe, Next Left” – whose articles also help initiating the FEPS Scientific Magazine “Queries”. Quickly after, with the help of the FEPS member foundations, the group enlarged presently incorporating around 30 outstanding and promising young academics.

FEPS YAN meets in the Viennese premises of Renner Institut, which offers great facilities for both reflections on the content and also on the process of building the network as such. Both elements constitute mutually enhancing factors, which due to innovative methods applied makes this Network also a very unique project. Additionally, the groups work has been supervised by the Chair of the Next Left Research Programme, Dr. Alfred Gusenbauer who at multiple occasions joined the sessions of the FEPS YAN, offering his feedback and guidance.

This paper is one of the results of the second cycle of FEPS YAN, (the first one ended with three papers in June 2011), in which 5 key themes were identified and are being currently researched by FEPS YAN working groups. These topics encompass: “Education, Labour and Skills”, “Economic governance in the EU”, “Migration and Reassessment of integration models”, “Youth unemployment” and “Social Europe and public opinion”. Each of the meetings is an opportunity for the FEPS YAN to discuss the current state of their research, presenting their findings and questions both in the plenary, as also in the respective working groups. The added value of their work is the pan-European, innovative, interdisciplinary character not to mention, that it is by principle that FEPS wishes to offer a prominent place to this generation of academics, seeing in it a potential to construct alternative that can attract young people to progressivism again. Though the process is very advanced already, the FEPS YAN remains a Network and hence is ready to welcome new participants.

FEPS YAN plays also an important role within FEPS structure as a whole. The FEPS YAN members are asked to join different events (from large Conferences, such as FEPS “Call to Europe” or “Renaissance for Europe” and PES Convention to smaller High Level Seminars and Focus Group Meetings) and encouraged to provide inputs for publications (i.e. for FEPS Scientific Magazine “Queries”). Enhanced participation of the FEPS YAN Members in the overall FEPS life and increase of its visibility remains one of the strategic goals of the Network for 2013.

See the first paper - The European Youth Guarantee: a reality check

See the second paper - How Eurobonds Relate to European Integration

See the third paper - Fixing the Broken Promise of Higher Education in Europe