Intra-EU Migration and Migrant Integration: Lessons from Europe
Co-sponsored by the German Marshall Fund of the United States, the Institute for the Study of International Migration (ISIM) at Georgetown University, and the European Union Center at the University of California, Berkeley, the meeting focused on two inter-related issues: intra-European Union migration and the integration of immigrants in Germany. Gudrun Biffl, Donau University, gave the principal presentation on intra-EU migration patterns, followed by comments from Amelie Constant, IZA, and Lindsay Lowell, ISIM. Reviewing current trends, Professor Biffl noted that the share of EU nationals living in another country roughly doubled between the early 1990s and 2012, from two to four percent. The top countries of origin are Romania, 2.3 million, Poland, 1.9 million, and Italy, 1.7 million. Germany and other EU countries with low unemployment rates are attracting intra-EU and non-EU migrants. ‘Posted workers’ are an important form of intra-EU mobility. Posted workers are sent by employers in their home country to work in other countries. They are considered employees of their country of origin, and their payroll taxes flow to their home governments.
Friedrich Heckmann, University of Bamberg, gave the principal presentation on immigrant integration, with comments from Michael Werz, Center for American Progress, and Susan Martin, ISIM. Professor Heckmann reported that during the past two decades, there has been sea-change in the attitudes of German leaders and the general populace about immigrant integration. They now talk of a “welcoming culture” that embraces foreigners. This process takes many forms, from government integration plans and measures to assess their effectiveness to the German Islamic Conference that provides an official forum for the German government to interact with Muslim religious leaders. The German government also supports the use of “integration agreements,” voluntary understandings between counselors and individual migrants that set out the expectations of both parties. By contrast, the US does not have an explicit immigrant integration policy, although most immigrants to the US have sponsors, including US relatives, employers, and NGOs that help refugees to resettle. Many general US policies promote the integration of immigrants, from birthright citizenship that ensures that children born in the US are US citizens to flexible US labor markets that help immigrants to get jobs and anti-discrimination policies. In both countries, the importance of immigrants learning the common language is emphasized as one of the best routes to economic, social and civic integration.