Narrative Publications


Integration of Migrants in Middle Sized Cities and Rural Areas in Europe

Executive Summary

Medium and small cities and rural areas in Europe have increasingly found themselves addressing the needs of migrants and refugees and developing and implementing integration programmes for their newly arrived residents. This report explores the context in which, and the structures through which, these measures are implemented and the nature of the actions being undertaken. It also makes a number of overarching observations about these measures. Most research has tended to focus on large cities (and to a lesser degree on rural areas), often ignoring the experiences of small and medium sized cities. Similarly, networks and projects tended to involve large cities, although a number of recent networks and projects have started to re-shape this reality.

This research shows a relatively positive attitude by many of the cities examined to actively engage with migration generally and integration in particular. Migration is seen as a way to address some of the existing demographic and other challenges of the city and integration provides a way towards ensuring that migrants and refugees are actively contributing to their new homes.

The key findings of this research include:
● Migrants offer significant benefits to medium and small cities including by assisting in addressing depopulation and ensuring the viability of basic services as well as greater diversity and public relations opportunities.
● Cities, including medium and small cities have often been left to deal with issues that the national level has failed to address.
● Migrants also benefit from being in medium and small cities including by having access to closer networks and by benefiting from greater interaction with locals. While in some cases, this has turned into a negative, for the most part, it has had a positive impact on the migrants and their integration prospects.
 ●The short duration of stay by many migrants in medium and small cities is a concern regarding their integration. Many migrants seek to move to larger cities with greater employment opportunities. The desire to move away often hinders the efficacy of integration programmes.
● Medium and small cities are more adaptable to changing realities and provide opportunities to test new policy and programming approaches. This is supported by the reduction in institutional structures as well as the possibility to implement projects at a lower cost.
● Great diversity exists in the types of integration activities undertaken by medium and small cities. Many have focused on soft integration measures whilst promotion of language acquisition, cultural competencies and employability skills are also common activities.
● Financial support for integration measures is often difficult to secure and is limited. European Union funding in particular is often difficult to access for small and medium sized cities who do not have dedicated resources to submit applications and prepare reports. Reliance on volunteers negatively impacts the sustainability of activities although it does contribute to making integration a shared endeavour.
● Capacity, including in terms of financial and human resources, is often stretched very thin in medium and small cities especially as these are often left to deal with issues that the national level has been unable to address. Both formal and informal partnerships with civil society organisations have been critical in addressing the limited capacity of government.
● There are opportunities for integration in a number of geographically close towns and villages working together to share resources and service provision. Such interaction between local authorities is an element of success in integration provision.
● Whilst the proliferation of networks at the European level often renders it difficult for medium and small cities to engage actively (given limited time and resources), they have found their own solutions including through informal channels for sharing information and regional level networks.
● Greater coordination is needed between different services at the municipal level (often assisted by the personal connection between various actors in medium and small cities) as well as between different levels of government.
● Monitoring and evaluation, as well as sustainability of projects, remains limited. These are areas where further action is to be encouraged.
● Municipalities have different powers, competences and resources in different countries. There is a distinction, in various countries, between medium and small cities and their ability and willingness to engage with integration issues.

Recommendations for the European Committee of the Regions:
● Conduct an EU Wide Needs assessment, addressing the needs of medium, small and rural areas in the integration of migrants.
● Provide tailored capacity building support (in the form of training and financial assistance) to networks of small cities that have started to emerge in the field of migrant integration to further support their growth and their multiplier potential.
● Ensure, through the CoR Initiatives that the outcomes of small networks across Europe can be broadcast across the European Union for lessons to be learnt.
● Expand the programme of sharing good practices including by ensuring that the CoR provides the space – online and offline – for the sharing of good practices in a manner that is usable and accessible.
● Continue to advocate, on behalf of municipalities, for EU finding to be made more practically accessible.
● Consider addressing the needs of medium and small cities as well as rural areas separately from each other. The distinctive realities of each must not be underestimated.
● There is a clear need to further monitor integration in medium and small cities through the collection, analysis and dissemination of more segregated data that would also allow LRAs, NGOs, researchers and others to examine the integration outcomes at the local level. The Committee of the Regions and the Cities and Region for Integration initiative should help develop migration and integration indicators for the local level, and guidance for States and others on how best to implement these.

Integration of Migrants in Middle Sized Cities and Rural Areas in Europe.pdf

Another nexus ? Exploring narratives on the linkage between EU external migration policies and the democratization of the southern Mediterranean neighbourhood


Since the beginning of the twenty-first century and after two turning point events – 09-11 terrorist attacks and the ‘Arab spring’ – both migration control and democracy promotion became central issues within EU foreign policy, in particular to what concern its relations with the southern Mediterranean neighbourhood. However, although many authors allude to the relation between these two policy dimensions, little is known about their linkage. On the one hand, the debate about EU external migration policies narratives has revolved mainly around the migration-security and migration-development nexus. On the other, whereas the developmental paradigm has dominated the root-causes approach little attention has been given to its political dimension. This article aims to overcome these limitations through exploring these other nexus: the one between these policies and the democratization of southern Mediterranean countries. To investigate this nexus I follow a Narrative Policy Analysis approach - the most suitable for investigating issues of high complexity, uncertainty and polarization, which seems to be precisely the case of EU external migration policies. Hence, drawing on longitudinal and interpretative content analysis of EU official documents covering the period between 1995 and 2018, this study seeks to expose the main narratives casted by the EU on the issue and to identify if there has been consistence or change in the stories and arguments over time and in particular, before and after the ‘Arab spring’. Ultimately, the goal was to confirm the presence of this nexus by exposing its complexity and trying to understand its configuration. This is considered as an important step towards further disentangling the logics and impacts of the externalization of EU migration policies towards its Southern Mediterranean neighbourhood.

Another nexus - Exploring narratives on the linkage between EU external migration policies and the democratization of the southern Mediterranean neighbourhood.pdf

Who is reshaping public opinion on the EU's migration policies? (July 2019)


Since Europe experienced its 2015/6 large-scale arrivals, immigration has never been so high on the political agenda of the European Union and several of its Member States. News of these arrivals spread through Europe’s fragmented media and political landscape. This discussion brief aims to capture the changes and drivers of public opinion on EU migration policy since 2015/6. To what extent have the media, fake news, national politicians, EU officials and migrants themselves reshaped public opinion? What are the differences across Europe and the implications for EU policymaking?

The desk research for this discussion brief took advantage of the explosion in public opinion research in recent years. The wide geographical coverage of these studies fill the major gap in research on media and public opinion on immigrants in Central Europe. Changes and drivers of EU public opinion have been identified through multivariate analysis of the European Social Survey and Eurobarometer as well as recent literature reviews, for example thanks to the Observatory of Public Attitudes to Migration. The increase in innovative survey experiments and panels allows researchers to better understand public decision-making and the effects of (dis)information. Several EU-wide reviews have been commissioned of the recent migration media coverage, while investigations by practitioners have revealed the importance of media ownership and social media campaigns.

The Discussion Brief begins with a review of the EU agenda and state-of-knowledge on the recent changes on public opinion on EU migration policy. The main section then investigates the relative importance and dynamics of the key drivers of public opinion: values and socialisation, political preferences, personal experiences, media framing and salience, the dynamics on social media, the key decision-makers behind media content and the key actors in the debate. The Brief concludes with the implications of these recent changes in public opinion for Europe’s societies and role in the world.

Who is reshaping public opinion on the EU's migration policies.pdf

Rethinking EU migration and asylum policies: Managing immigration jointly with countries of origin and transit (2019)

Executive Summary

The new European Commission will inherit an impasse in efforts to reform the European asylum system as well as concerns about practices in the management of the EU’s external border that contradict humanitarian standards and may even be illegal. While the number of asylum seekers who manage to reach EU territory is now lower than in previous years, it may be low precisely because of those problematic practices, including abuse of irregular migrants along the Western Balkan route, limited search and rescue capacity in the Central Mediterranean, and EU cooperation with the Libyan coast guard even though migrants returned by it to Libya have been abused. In this 2019 MEDAM Assessment Report, we present insights from MEDAM research and policy dialogue since 2016 to explain how closer cooperation among EU member states and with countries of origin and transit can improve outcomes for all stakeholders. Crucially, short of establishing a new Iron Curtain on the EU’s external border or continuing to tolerate abuses, there is no way that either individual member states or the EU as a whole can insulate themselves from irregular migrants and asylum seekers. Yet, if crossing the EU border enabled all irregular migrants to remain in the EU for good, the integrity of EU visa and asylum policies would be undermined. Thus, close cooperation with countries of origin for the return and readmission of their citizens who have no right to remain in the EU is crucial. Still, it is typically not in the interest of countries of origin to limit the mobility of their citizens. Cooperation between the EU and countries of origin must therefore cover a wide enough range of policies to ensure that all parties consistently benefit from the policy package and have a strong incentive to meet their commitments. We emphasize more EU support for refugees hosted by low- and middle-income countries and more legal employment opportunities for non-EU citizens in the EU. Rethinking EU asylum and migration policies along these lines requires extensive consultations and negotiations among stakeholders in Europe and in countries of origin and transit. Our ‘insights’ are meant to inform and stimulate such conversations. However, sustainable reforms will come only as the result of stakeholders working out the details and developing a sense of ownership of the necessary reforms. Our first set of insights relates to popular attitudes toward immigration and the structure of public preferences for asylum and refugee protection policies (section 2 of this report). Next, we explain how the EU and countries of origin and transit can all benefit from cooperating on border management, refugee protection, and expanding legal labor migration to the EU (section 3). Finally, we consider the implications for cooperation among EU member states and the long-standing plans for reform of the European asylum system (section 4).


Rethinking EU migration and asylum policies, Managing immigration jointly with countries of origin and transit.pdf

Public Opinion toward Immigration, Refugees and Identity in Europe, A Closer Look at What Europeans Think and How Immigration Debates Have Become So Relevant (2019)

Recent dramatic changes in Europe’s political landscape are closely related to an increase in support for parties that take a strong stance against immigration. The purpose of this article is to provide a nuanced picture of public opinion on the issue of immigration, and specifically refugees, provide some background on why these issues are important, and examine how the issue has been instrumentalized by authoritarian populists in Europe to mobilize the public in their support.


Public Opinion toward Immigration, Refugees and Identity in Europe, A Closer Look at What Europeans Think....pdf

Media Framing Dynamics of the 'European Refugee Crisis': A comparative Topic Modelling Approach (2019)


The complexity and duration of the so-called ‘European refugee crisis’ created a climate of uncertainty, which left ample room for mass media to shape citizens’ understanding of what the arrival of these refugees meant for their respective country. This study analyses the national media discourses in Hungary, Germany, Sweden, the United Kingdom and Spain for this time period. Applying Latent Dirichlet Allocation topic modelling in five languages and based on N¼130,042 articles from 24 news outlets, we reveal country-specific media frames to track the overall course of the refugee debate and to uncover dynamics and shifts in discourses. While results show similarities across countries, due to media coverage responding to real-world developments, there are differences in media framing as well. Possible sources of these differences such as countries’ geographic location or status as receiving country are discussed.

Media Framing Dynamics of the 'European Refugee Crisis', A comparative Topic Modelling Approach.pdf

Journalism In The Age of Populism and Polarisation: Insights from the Migration Debate in Italy (June 2019)


Across the world – from the US to the UK, from Europe to South Asia and Latin America – politics and media are stuck in a spiral that incentivizes divisive rhetoric, hyper-partisanship and disinformation. The main beneficiaries of this spiral are a generation of politicians, often labeled ‘populist.’ What connects them is not their policies, but their ability to capture attention. They use intentionally inflammatory language and controversial ideas in order to focus attention on themselves and to divide electorates into crude wars of ‘us’ versus ‘them’. Sometimes they are supported by online squadrons of social media militias, as well as intensely biased publications with low editorial standards, that help push their messages. Traditional, ‘quality’ media that aspire to accuracy and balance find themselves caught in a catch-22: a failure to report on these politicians will result in accusations of censorship, but challenging them risks accusations of ‘fake news’ by the politicians themselves.


Journalism In The Age of Populism and Polarisation, Insights from the Migration Debate in Italy.pdf

European Public Opinion and Migration: Achieving Common Progressive Narratives (2019)


Attitudes towards migrants are difficult to grasp – but they are less divided than populists would have us believe. Nevertheless, an increasing number of Europeans feel uneasy about people who escape poverty and violence in search of a decent and safe life far away from their home. This European uneasiness is expressed in fears that range from unfair competition in the labour market and reduced access to social services in the host countries to the perceived threat posed by migrants to national identities, ethnic homogeneity and security. The aim of this book is to try and shed light on the paradox that the disadvantaged and marginalised represent an imminent threat to our societies. It also aims to explain the origin of a political short circuit that is affecting public opinion right across Europe and impacting on electoral results, political dynamics and immigration policies in many EU member states. This anti-migrant backlash is altering – sometimes dramatically – the balance of power between mainstream parties and so-called populist and extremist ones. It is even changing the face and soul of the European Union.


European Public Opinion and Migration, Achieving Common Progressive Narratives.pdf

Common home - Migration and development in Europe and beyond (November 2019)

Executive summary

Over the last few years, migration has deeply polarised public debate in Europe. While the record number of
migrant arrivals has considerably dropped since 2017, the ensuing political and social crisis in Europe remains today. It is in this climate, fraught with tensions and mistrust, that Caritas Europa launched a renewed reflection on the complex interconnections between migration and development, both in Europe and overseas, in order to promote a more balanced debate.

As described in Chapter 1, this publication is based on the findings, testimonies and good practices of 11 Common Home studies,1 covering Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Germany (Bavaria), Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Sweden, and on the analysis of European and international statistical databases and the review of secondary literature. Caritas approaches migration and development from two angles. On the one hand, it analyses the extent to which migration itself does and may contribute to sustainable development in countries of origin and destination. On the other hand, it examines the extent to which European and Member State policies and practices, both internally and externally, contribute to the integral human development of people and the sustainable development of countries in Europe and beyond. A critical assessment of what has been done and what should be done in these domains in order to create structures and policies that foster integral human development and that support the development potential of migration are also presented in this publication.

As detailed in Chapter 1, Caritas uses a broad understanding of migration, inclusive of all those who are refugees and applicants for international protection as well as migrant workers and members of their families. As regards development, Caritas views it as the long-term process of building up community and household social and economic capacities in a sustainable manner, in order to eradicate poverty and vulnerability, and to promote social justice. Key to Caritas’ vision is the concept of integral human development, which places the human person at the centre of the development process. Integral human development is defined as an all-embracing approach that takes into consideration the well-being of the person and of all people in seven different dimensions: 1) social, 2) work, 3) ecological, 4) political, 5) economic, 6) cultural, and 7) spiritual.

In Caritas’ view, migration remains linked to poverty inasmuch as poverty is understood as not only economic poverty, but also encompasses exclusion or the lack of opportunities to participate in society or to access decent work, good governance, education and healthcare, freedom of expression and participation, or the ability to avoid the consequences of climate change. Caritas thus supports the view that there is no proven correlation between poverty eradication and reduction of migration, and further contends that although some of the drivers of migration need to be addressed to support the long-term development of the countries, poverty reduction is in itself not a migration-reducing strategy. For Caritas, the solution therefore is to facilitate integral human development. Both people who migrate and those who remain - whether in country of origin or in country of residence - have the right to find wherever they call home the economic, political, environmental and social conditions to live in dignity and to achieve a full life. Hence, rather than focus on stopping human mobility, governments should prioritise development policies that create environments, enabling people to achieve their full potential, their life project, their integral human development.

Common home, Migration and development in Europe and beyond.pdf

Public attitudes on migration: rethinking how people perceive migration - An analysis of existing opinion polls in the Euro-Mediterranean region

Executive summary

The International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) commissioned the Migration Policy Centre (MPC) of the European University Institute to provide this report in early 2018, based on the work of the MPC’s Observatory of Public Attitudes to Migration (OPAM). This built on the insight and recommendations of the first EuroMed Migration Communications Study—‘How does the media on both sides of the Mediterranean report on migration?' This second study aims to:
• Offer a better understanding of public attitudes to migration in 17 selected countries on both sides of the Mediterranean;
• Attempt to explain why attitudes to migration are what they are — with an emphasis on the role of media. The report both summarises previous findings and provides new analyses;
• Provide recommendations on how to communicate on migration in a non-polarising manner.


Public attitudes on migration study.pdf