A briefing paper issued by the European Court of Auditors highlights critical issues in terms of migrant integration in the EU, including delays, discrimination, scarce resources and fragmented policies.
The report essentially gives a failing grade to the EU's enactment of policies on migrant integration thus far, both across the EU as well as specifically in Italy.
In the report, the Court of Auditors said that more than 21 million non-EU citizens are living legally in the EU, about 4 percent of the overall EU population. That figure jumps to 18 percent when second-generation migrants are included in the total.
"The long-term impact of the recent inflow of migrants will depend on how well they are integrated into European society," said Iliana Ivanova, the member of the European Court of Auditors responsible for the briefing paper.
"We have identified seven challenges to their integration that need to be addressed by the Member States and the EU," she said.
The issue of delays
The first challenge is that of delays. The rules applied to migrants are not the same in all EU member states, which the Court of Auditors said is "a factor leading migrants to move between countries and delaying the start of the integration process". It said that application processing can sometimes be lengthy. Discrimination is also a factor, it said.
"Despite EU legislation promoting equal rights and non-discrimination, immigration by people from outside the EU continues to arouse negative feelings for many Europeans. In some Member States, this has a negative impact on migrant integration".
Uncertainty around funding
Worsening the situation is uncertainty regarding funding, around which not even the Court of Auditors managed to gain clarity. "Several EU funds can finance integration measures but the total amount being spent is not known. Since 2015, the EU has mobilized over 5 billion euros of additional funding to deal with the increase in migration flows, of which over 100 million euros were allocated to integration.
In 2017, member states declared that in order to integrate migrants, they needed additional resources of around 450 million euros from the Asylum Migration and Integration Fund". The auditors said migrant integration policies need adequate funding.
The briefing paper also highlighted EU-level shortcomings in terms of migrant policy. "In 2016, the European Commission developed an action plan with 52 measures at EU level. As of December 2017, 23 actions had not been completed. In addition, member states are also encouraged to develop specific measures to tackle certain areas, but the Commission does not monitor these measures". It said implementation of such measures depends on "member states' commitment".