Across the EU, there are wide variations between different countries in how they approach the question of integration of immigrants and their descendants. Whilst some countries (such as the UK and France) have long histories of and experience with migration, others (such as newer members like Poland) have relatively little (recent) experience with large migration inflows. In addition, different countries have very different philosophical/ideological approaches to integration, with the French Republican model that rejects group identities traditionally considered to be on one end, whilst the UK with a more ‘multicultural’ approach has been considered at the other.
Nevertheless, recently it has been argued that integration policies across different countries are actually converging and that there are now fewer obvious differences between the different models. And this could be part of a wider shift. With increasing pressure on integration budgets and growing complexity and diversity in communities, it is increasingly hard to justify integration as a standalone policy area leading to an increase in a ‘mainstreamed’ approach to integration – so that integration priorities are simply included in more generic policy areas (see this Breakfast briefing for a discussion). Examining whether, why and how this has happened has been the focus of the UPSTREAM project and one element of the analysis has been investigating the role of the EU within this policy field. [READ THE REST]