Refugee integration is a dynamic, multifaceted and two-way process that requires efforts from all  parties involved, including the willingness of refugees to adapt to the host society without renouncing their  former cultural identity, as well as the mutual availability of host communities and public institutions to receive  refugees and meet the needs of a diverse community1.

Moreover, the local / national integration mechanism is complex and gradual, with three distinct but  interconnected dimensions, namely legal, economic and socio-cultural, all of which are important for the  capacity of integration refugees as full members of society. Social and economic rights oriented towards the  integration process include freedom of movement, access to education and the labor market, access to aid and  social assistance, including medical facilities, the possibility of acquiring and alienating property and the ability  to travel with valid identity and travel documents. 

Thus, in order to make concrete recommendations and proposals for improving the refugee integration  system, this paper aims to present in a general context the tools, policies and the process of refugee adaptation in  the host states and, at the same time, to evaluate the existing integrative approaches to European national level.

  1. The general European context on migrants and refugees

For a good understanding, first of all, is necessary to define the notion of refugee. Thus, refugees are  those who flee armed conflict or persecution. They have recognized status in the host country, based on a well justified fear of persecution on the grounds of race, religion, citizenship, politics or membership in a particular  social group2. At the same time, asylum seekers are those who claim to be refugees, but have not yet received  this status. At present, they have to apply for international protection in the first EU country they reach. They  can receive refugee status or another form of international protection only through a positive decision of the  national authorities. Therefore, not all asylum seekers will be recognized as refugees. At the same time, we  consider it necessary to mention that migrants generally choose to move to another state not because they are  directly threatened or persecuted, but because they are looking for a better life – a job, better education, family  reunification, etc. Refugees are protected by international law, in particular by the 1951 Convention relating to  the Status of Refugees, while the management of migrants is carried out by national governments, in accordance  with their own immigration laws and processes.

The integration of third-country nationals (RTT), seen as a multidimensional, long-term and non-linear  process, is currently the subject of major discussions within the European Union (EU). Academics and policy  makers are working to quantify the impact of integration. In this context, the first category asks whether we  really know whether migrants are integrated, while the second category reflects whether the integration policies they have developed have been successful or have failed and call into question the very need to self of these  policies. In the mid-1990s, the use of indicators became a topic of interest among researchers and policy makers  at European level, primarily as a tool for building a framework for evaluating integration policies and programs. 

The first academic research to theorize refugee migration dates back to 1981 (Kunz 1981 in Smyth,  Stewart and Da Lomba 2010) and later inspired an view that integration is “a process influenced by both the  institutional environment of the host society and the personal capacities of the host society”3. Also, the concept  of refugee integration has been debated extensively and critically from the perspective of a multidimensional  and two-way4process despite the claim that integration itself does not lend itself well enough to definitions  (Council of Europe 1997). This issue has also been brought to the attention of UNHCR’s progressive work in the  field of refugee integration, especially since 2000. 

So what is refugee integration? At the time of the establishment of the international refugee regime,  about 60 years ago, the international community sought to recognize that refugee problems can be solved  through local integration.Since then, the concept has been used in the context of refugees, although a formal  definition continues to be lacking in international refugee law. 

Thus, in an attempt to address this shortcoming, the UNHCR Executive Committee provided a definition  of refugee integration and recognized that integration is a complex and gradual process, with three distinct but  interconnected dimensions, namely legal, economic and socio-cultural. Specifically, UNHCR considers that: Refugee integration is a dynamic, multifaceted and two-way process that requires efforts from all  stakeholders, including a certain level of training from refugees to adapt to the society that receives them  without having to give up their cultural identity, as well as proper preparation of host communities and  public institutions to receive refugees and meet the needs of a diverse community (UNHCR Executive  Committee 2005).

At present, the term “refugee” applies to all persons recognized under the 1951 Convention relating to the  Status of Refugees, as well as to relocated refugees and persons granted subsidiary protection, in accordance  with the Council Directive on minimum standards for the qualification of third-country nationals or stateless  persons, as refugees or persons in need of international protection5.

  1. Refugee in the states of the European Union. Romanian context

Romania is generally seen as a part of Europe, and as a place in which people can start a new life. The  reference to Europe seems to be important, as Europe is described as being an open environment, unlike  refugees’ countries of origin or other developed regions, such as America. In other words, Europe is also more  accessible. 

Romanians are depicted in positive terms, and they seem to be important actors in refugees’ social lives  here. Differences between themselves and Romanians are not put in problematic terms, but seen as leading to  the necessity to adapt to the new, to the current, chosen coordinates of their lives.

However, refugees’ route to Romania was the classic one in the last years. It included travelling through  the Western Balkans, with previous stops in Turkey and Greece during 2015-2016, and with a more recent start  point on the Greece-Bulgaria or Turkey-Bulgaria route. This route was followed either directly to Romania or  through Serbia, in this case with further attempts to reach Western countries and detours to Romania. With the  strict Hungarian border control, Romania has increasingly become a rather successful alternative in this context. 

Some arrive led by smugglers, on illegal routes that avoid border control. For them, Romania is seen as a  transit country not a target in their migration route. 

Some arrive legally, sometimes using family resources. Among them, a few come directly from their  country of origin, typically to study in Romania, and apply for protection only afterwards. However, most of the  refugees do not benefit from family support. 

In order to have an accurate estimate of the number of refugees residing in Romania, or of the estimated  future arrivals, there is a clear need for cooperation among authorities. As public authorities, Inspectorate  General for Immigration and the Border police may seem to be the main source of information (they keep track  of entries in and exits from the country), but various other public agencies could and should be considered for  information. 

Time tends to fade away intentions to re-migrate for those who were stuck here by mistake. Many of  them declare that they desire to settle down in Romania for good, even if some still consider migration to the  West as a future step. We consider that in an age of liquid migration, such strong decisions are anyway  temporary.

For this situation, in Romania existing already a complex of measures that already provide some support  to refugees. We recommend that such support needs to be continuous and to start with the reception phase, in  order to ease integration, to increase psychological comfort, to facilitate understanding of the society and of own  intentions and choices. Support should include personal and family counselling, legal advice (their rights,  obligations and the procedures they have to follow), interaction with Romanian society and culture. IGI is the  key actor in this respect. Externalization of specific tasks to civil society and active involvement of other public  administration agencies should complement the efforts of the Inspectorate General for Immigration. Moreover,  public authorities should be supported to acquire an increased knowledge regarding the situation in the countries  of origin of refugees, which are the cultural norms and typical life-strategies over there, what compels refugees  to leave their country. Such information could be made available through brochures, similar to those prepared in  other European countries. 

On the other hand, in order to improve the management of expectations among refugees arriving in  Romania, either spontaneously, or through resettlement, stakeholders should consider the following actions as:  i) providing asylum seekers and refugees with accurate information regarding Romania and what living in  Romania entails. Information on the repertoire of resources and services available to refugees and how/where to  access them in various social situations is equally important. NGOs active in the field of refugees could support  such initiatives; ii) NGOs, community organizations, or local communities, should also organize events which  bring together Romanian citizens and refugees, in order to support the integration of the latter; iii) within the  mix of social policy, at national and local level, decision makers should consider devising measures that address  refugees as part of broader vulnerable groups. 

An aspect that could be exploited is the seemingly positive perception of Romanians by the refugees, as  to foster future social relations that could, in turn, be helpful in the integration of refugees. This could be done  through events bringing together refugees and natives, and even through devising measures addressing refugees  as part of broader vulnerable groups – from an economic standpoint, for example.

First step in Romania. Regardless of the way in which the applicants enter Romania officially / legally or  illegally, for both categories of asylum seekers, the institutions that represent the first dialogue partners in this  process are the Border Police, the Romanian Police, IGI, MJ (Ministry of Justice) . In this sense, the internal  procedure involves the following steps:


Document procedure. Despite NGOs’ and public institutions’ help, dealing with papers is sometimes hard  as some institutions are reluctant or do not have procedures/internal rules in dealing with refugees. This is valid  both for local public authorities, but also sometimes about some private institutions. 

Refugees face the same problems that Romanians must cope with, in all areas of daily life. The  difference is made by certain features: language barriers, documents (lack of, or recognition issues), or a lack of  knowledge of how the (social) system works. 

Another problem is that contents of the files regarding refugees’ data are not digitalized and there is not  an inter-connection of data bases between different institutions. This also means there is no system in place  storing hard-copy data and allowing for disaggregated data to be extracted regarding the profile of the refugee  population. The refugees are expected to provide the same data to different institutions, several times. A special  attention should be paid to confidentiality of data in a possible process of data unification. 

The status of subsidiary protection is not known by local public authorities. They do not know what  rights the refugees have and sometimes it takes a while and maybe a few rejections from accessing certain  rights, while the process of verifying the legislation is going on. In other case, the law exists, but the procedures  are not developed. The tendency of local public authorities is to reject requests, if they are faced with new  situations, while adapting rules and internal producers to take a more flexible approach seems to remain an  ongoing saga.


To improve these procedures and maximize their real effects, we must offer training to the personnel  from local administration in order to know the legislation regarding refugees’ rights and put in place or adapt  procedures in order to allow them to effectively exert their rights; training to the personnel from local  administration in order to accept refugees in the community, better communicate with them and reduce  reluctance; and digitizing recorded data and unification of data bases, with attention to data confidentiality. 

III. Internal needs of refugees

Language. There is a clear need for quickly acquiring Romanian language skills and service providers try to  meet this necessity. The main difficulty in providing language courses is the lack of qualified personnel. This is  particularly salient in the case of lower skilled newly arrived refugees, which happen to be the most vulnerable,  the ones that are less likely to leave Romania, and that also master to a lesser extent English or other substitute  languages. Refugees who practice more often Romanian language and have more frequent contacts with the  native population (colleagues, Romanian life partners) have better prospects of labour market integration. Being  acquainted with Romanian language and culture is extremely important for integration in all other areas and,  later on, for naturalization. Our interviews showed that if language courses are available and of good quality,  then refugees are interested in attending them.

Therefore, continuing to provide intensive Romanian language courses (increase the number of hours),  from the very first days following arrival in the country, is crucial. Such courses bring variety to the boring life  of the reception centres, and therefore become extremely attractive and useful for the socio-economic  integration of refugees. 

Capacity building for Romanian language teachers, in order to develop their skills of delivering more  attractive courses, adapted to refugees’ needs and linked to employment, as well as to their different levels of  knowledge. Thus, refugees who want to access higher education or naturalization procedures can attend  intermediate-advanced courses with a focus on grammar, culture and history. 

Developing informal learning activities with the participation of native population and support of NGOs  (thematic activities, volunteering, activities for children). This type of activity can reduce prejudice against  refugees and increase awareness, bring together community members, reduce segregation while improving  language skills. 

By organizing events in which refugees can directly interact with natives, not necessarily focused  explicitly on language acquisition, service providers can actually create (informal) contexts in which acquiring  some language skills is an effect of social interactions. 

Developing on-line Romanian language courses for foreigners (mobile apps) since part of the refugees  have improved their language skills using technology. 

Work and acces to labour market. Among the main obstacles to labour market access are low  language skills and refugees’ limited awareness of their rights as well as labour market legislation. Another  factor that limits the labour market integration of refugees is represented by the long duration of status  determination procedures. At the same time, the lack, or low levels of social capital makes it difficult for  refugees to find employment. As a result of different cultural patterns in the country of origin, women have  lower professional opportunities compared to men: they usually stay at home with the children or get employed  in manual jobs. The labour market characteristics at national level determine geographical mobility among  refugees, big cities/centers being their main destination.

Provision of vocational training programs and counselling for job finding for low-skilled refugees  (including women with no previous professional experience) are a good step to ease refugees’ integration on the  labour market. Outsourcing such programs to NGOs seems to be an appropriate modus operandi, considering  current situation. Legislation should be improved as to facilitate access to vocational training for those with no  proof of previous education or experience, and funding should be targeted towards labour market integration as  a key area of a more comprehensive integration policy.

Specialized assistance regarding labour market legislation and employees’ rights should be part of the  integration support package. Refugees often lack basic knowledge about disability benefits, access to  unemployment benefits (they do not exist in some countries), legislation referring to working hours and working  conditions, etc. Trade unions could be part of the process, given their expertise in the field. 

Combining language courses with vocational training programs during the stay in reception centres can  be a way to reach the first above-goal. 

Childcare support for women with children (especially those under the age of 3) in order for them to  attend language courses and professional training is a prerequisite. It can be accomplished with the help of  volunteers, and with support from NGOs working with children. 

Providing fiscal incentives for employers who train and hire refugees (e.g. in social economy entities; on the-job training programs) is a simple mean to accelerate employment outside the black market. 

Partnerships between social partners (trade unions, employers, authorities) especially in economic sectors  with labour force shortages were already suggested. They might be part of a more strategic thinking to involve  employers and unions into debates about the role of immigrants and refugees as compensation for the lack of  national labour force. 

Housing. As they reduce the degree of participation in local community life, long stays in refugee centres are  not beneficial to refugees’ integration. Therefore, moving into the community represents a first step for the  integration of persons granted a form of international protection in Romania. Although the attitude of the  majority population towards refugees may slow down the process of finding a home, the main obstacle in  accessing adequate housing remains the cost. On top of that, refugees sometimes have to face the owners’  refusal to register their contracts at the tax authority because they don’t want to pay taxes.

There is a clear need for providing refugees, at least in their first year(s) in Romania, support for  identification of rental apartments, in particular focusing on mediation of relations between landlords and  refugees. A Government initiative to buy/renew/build houses for refugees8 could be a step forward in this  direction if segregation is avoided.

Reducing discrimination in housing related situations and the avoidance of legal obligations by landlords  might also be reached through a more active involvement of NGOs in providing support in this specific  direction. 

Local authorities should step up their information efforts regarding refugees’ rights to social housing and financial support for housing rentals. Such information may be part of the program to get in touch with the  Romanian culture and society6

Awareness campaigns targeting Romanian landlords and local communities in order to facilitate renting  houses to refugees are also necessary. 

Social integration. The general aspect related to social integration or, more precisely, to social interactions  with Romanians/in Romania, is its positive character, as described by rfugees. The social environment in  Romania is perceived as being welcoming, with friendly people. At the same time, from an institutional  perspective, things do not seem to be as clear cut. Many instances of confusion are described, as well as  perceived failures on behalf of the state when it comes to its integration measures. What is crucial here is how  the state is often substituted, or complemented, by lay persons, be they natives who interact with refugees and  bring them food at the centre, or refugees helping each other in their interaction with the authorities, in the  absence of translators, or pooling resources for buying groceries, in order to get by financially. Independent  structures dedicated to working with refugees are also mentioned as valuable resources for integration.

Compared to these, we believe that efforts towards transforming the time spent at the centre into a time  gained, rather than lost, should be made. Right now, there are Romanian classes organized within the centres by  NGOs, but a broader array of activities can be devised, including more activities to take place outside the  centres. 

The existence and regular presence of translators is vital. Currently, their absence is forcing refugees in  the centres to act as interpreters for their less knowledgeable fellows. While this fosters social interactions, it can  also lead to uneven displays of social power among the refugees, thus adding to the vulnerabilities experienced  by those who do not speak languages such as Romanian or English. 

Activities designed to mediate between employers and refugees searching for jobs should be more  prominent, as they can help individuals to obtain jobs according to their qualifications.

Integration should start from the reception phase and must be an active goal in the centres. It should  occur there, as well, and one may use time in order to replace boredom. Simple programs could be run: refugees  can be involved in renewing and maintaining the centres, football teams can be organized at very low costs and  could be involved in amateur leagues, volunteers and NGOs should be constantly attracted for providing  activities that foster understanding of Romanian culture. 

Acces to education. Young refugees who do not have the support of the family/ethnic communities face  hardships in order to continue their education in Romania. As the state financial aid does not cover their living  expenditures, most of the time they drop out of school and are forced to work in order to pay the rent. Some of  the refugees that dropped out of school return after a while to study when they can afford to sustain themselves  and study in the same time. 

Refugees face bureaucratic procedures in order to have their diplomas recognized. Sometimes they are  helped by organizations such as Romanian National Refugee Council to overstep language barriers. Some of the  refugee children lack the legal papers required by law for enrolment and may be placed in classes that are under  their training level. 

Other types of barriers refer to acceptance in the school by the others, distance to the school, teachers’  lack of training in interacting with refugees and different cultures. 

The qualification courses for training into a profession are in Romanian language, and therefore that is a  barrier for refugees who do not yet speak/understand Romanian.

The Romanian language course organized by Local school Inspectorate, either at the schools or at the IGI  regional centres is not enough in terms of number of hours assigned and basic knowledge covered. Furthermore,  teachers need to be trained on how to teach Romanian as a foreign language and how to interact with  refugees/foreigners.

In order to increase refugees’ access to education, the following actions should be considered. If not  stated otherwise, all bellow recommendations are referring to advocacy targeting the Ministry of National  Education and its agencies (and partly the Ministry of Labour and Social Justice). 

Organising awareness raising campaigns targeting teachers and parents in order to inform them about the  situation of refugees and increase refugee children’s acceptance in schools 

Schools where refugee children are enrolled should receive information on available EU funds dedicated  to helping school integration of refugees and should be trained on how to develop sustainable projects, including  in partnership with IGI and NGOs. 

Schools where refugee children are enrolled should assign a mediator/counsellor who would provide  information, counselling and support to refugee children and their parents. They also need to consider using the  “support teachers” (shadow educators) coordinated by the Local Centres for Educational Resources and  Assistance. The activity of “support teachers” is specifically designed to provide better integration for pupils  who require supplementary assistance during schooling. 

Specific training and encouraging teachers to be more active is a must. Tailored activities for these  refugee children, and cooperation with school counsellors are activities to be considered in daily practice. To  this aim, the Local Teacher Training Centres, the Local Centres for Educational Resources and Assistance,  School Inspectorates, IGI and NGOs should be targeted in this respect. 

Considering adult education/lifelong learning, it is necessary to train trainers for working with foreign  citizens and adapt both the teaching resources and assessment/evaluation tools. This would also entail  establishing assessment methods that are available in languages such as English or French. This is a pathway followed by most countries that have experience with integration of immigrants and refugees. The National  Authority for Qualifications (ANC) and the National Agency for Employment (ANOFM). 

Ensuring social housing for young refugees without family, and an allowance for decent living during  their studies in Romania (high school or university) could help them focus on study, without working to support  themselves. Both refugees and society would profit from such situation. 

Exemption of paying the taxes for public university for young refugees may be considered. Nevertheless,  imposing obligations to pursue first years of the career in Romania may complement such measures. 

One may consider the opportunity to provide a two-step accreditation of qualifications: first, a test of  skills and competencies could lead directly to providing a certificate to those who pass the test, irrespective if  they attended or not a training in Romania or they can show a certificate from their country of origin; those who  do not pass the test should follow the regular trainings. CNFPA and ANOFM should be involved in such action. 

Since mastering at least basic knowledge of Romanian language is necessary in society, but not a  requirement in some professions, one may consider offering the opportunity to learn Romanian and receive  professional qualification simultaneously. Through implication, professional trainings and access to  qualification courses could be also provided in English or in another foreign language. Qualification courses  could be organised for refugees who speak a common mother tongue (eg. Arab, Farsi) and translated with the  support of an interpreter. 

Health services. With respect to medical care in the IGI regional centres, the main issue is the lack of  medical staff, especially doctors are missing in half of the centres and are replaced by nurses. Also, there are not  enough psychologists in the centres despite their immediate necessity, since asylum seekers suffered different  kinds of trauma and the pressure of an uncertain future can make them adopt behaviours that may be difficult to  manage. An adequate evaluation of the asylum seekers’ state of health is not complete because of lack of  medical resources. This evaluation should be considered as a part of national health policy, as new diseases can  enter the territory of the country. With respect to refugees in the IGI regional centres, their health is sometimes  affected by lacking resources for proper nutrition, clothing or basic hygiene products. Part of the interviewed  asylum seekers who are residents in the regional centres point out to insects as lice, or mould, improper  sanitation or improper bed shits. In the community, the refugees that are working on the black market, in low  qualification jobs lack medical insurance and are most vulnerable. The fact that they are young and many of  them do not need medical services and are not willing to contribute to the health insurance system in the near  future, can be costly further on. Usually, when the family comes to Romania, especially with children, the  perception changes and the commitment for a health insurance to cover the whole family medical assistance  increases.

Family and daily life. Family is one of the main support elements in refugees’ lives and, at the same time,  one of the most sensitive issues they face. Family separation can only exacerbate the pressure experienced by  refugees when in a foreign country, without language skills and in some cases, without documents. Some  refugees formed a family after their arrival in Romania, others got the opportunity to visit or to travel with their  families (wives and/ or children), while others had to wait for family reunification. An increase in accepted  family reunification request will impact on both housing arrangements and educational field.

Studying the situation of families and family relations, several recommendations rose up. They refer  various categories of stakeholders, as explained in the following proposed actions and principles: 

There are already many actions in place to provide support for family reunification procedures. IGI, the  Ministry of Foreign affairs and NGOs are already involved and they should continue to provide their help.  Family reunification brings stability to the individual’s life, increases his/her trust in public institutions and  her/his desire to settle in the host country. Providing specific counselling for those separated from their families,  or for those lacking a family of their own is stringent. 

As a result of cultural differences between the countries of origin and Romania, all the proposed  measures and actions should also be accompanied by gender empowerment programs, implemented by the same  organizations, or being outsourced to NGOs. It is essential to explain the refugees that it is most likely that both  partners will need to work in order to afford living in Romania.


Experiences of discrimination. While the refugees did not consider themselves to have been  discriminated, overall, there are situations that seem to hide numerous potential discriminatory behaviours, for  example when someone looks for a job or for housing outside the refugee centre. Another aspect worthy of  being mentioned is that, at least from the interviews conducted thus far, discrimination seems to be rather  institutional, than individual. This finding is in line with what has been presented on the perceptions of refugees  regarding Romanians (good, friendly people, willing to lend a helping hand).

In order to prevent discrimination towards refugees, stakeholders should consider the following actions:  i) raising awareness among public servants on the existence and the rights of refugees; ii) the main resource for  the campaign of increasing tolerance towards refugees can be found in the attitudes of the general population,  which is slightly benevolent with regard to helping refugees. One may persuade IGI to work along with the  National Equality Body and commission a campaign of portraying refugees’ contribution to the cultural,  economic and social development of the host country. 

Identity and intention for the future. For such an issue as identity in the case of refugees, a few  concepts seem to arise as central: peace, security, (being allowed to) making one’s life. The matter of who one is  often seems to be associated with reconstructing a sense of normality that existed prior to the problems leading  to the departure from the origin, or, complementarily, with constructing ideas of individuals beyond borders or  outside geographical references: happiness seekers, professionals, etc.

Correcting the mismatches between refugees’ professional training and their opportunities for  employment, as an important element for all the parties involved: to the refugees and their identity as  individuals, to the host country as a place that could benefit from the skills brought in by refugees, if put in  contexts maximizing their potential. 

In the traumatic context associated with seeking protection in a different country, addressing the problem  of self-awareness and self-representations are issues that have to be structurally addressed. A possibility here  would be to organize support groups, involving relevant actors from the host country – NGOs, professional  associations active in social sciences, churches, charities, along with public administration. 

  1. Conclusions

People see around them the reality that is relevant for their needs, for their past, for their aspiration.  Everywhere in the world, expats do live in a situation of increases in status as compared to what they had in  their home society, and experience a privileged position as compared to the host society7. They are rather  interested in fulfilling superior needs, and they stress personal development, cultural consumption, quality of the  environment, referring mainly to those parts of the host society, that they actually meet in their daily life8. After  an often-brutal split with their home country, leaving behind societies fragmented by conflicts, violence, or  persecution, refugees turn towards basic needs. Food, housing and personal security become salient. This is  what European states offers in the first place.

Although the EU supports the development of effective integration strategies, the situation on the ground  is very unequal between member states. In addition, the level of experience in integration differs from one  Member State to another, and pupils and students from a migrant background often face difficulties in adapting  to the new learning environment. Problems sometimes get worse when young refugees turn 18 and the support  networks they have relied on until then disappear overnight.

Integration should be the key concept in dealing with refugees. If the goal of policy is to reinforce the  ability of refugees to achieve personal well-being and to contribute to society’s welfare, one needs to go beyond legal formalization of granting asylum, and to help newcomers, to blend into the local culture. We have  repeatedly argued that mastering language is the first important challenge for foreigners, in particular when less  educated.

Integration is also about the way in which others look at you, as a refugee. A campaign  stressing the positive feelings towards immigrants, asylum seekers and refugees, as well as dealing  with the wide-spread negative stereotypes, is most likely necessary.

Advocacy and direct action in these directions is the basic strategic principle that we recommend.  Considering differences among refugees, one may consider to focus on those how are low-skilled migrants.  High skilled migrants are more able to search for help and they may arrive by themselves in contact with service  providers. They are also more likely to be mobile, including re-migration, and to acquire knowledge from a  multiplicity of places. Low-skilled refugees are more vulnerable and need more help to come towards them.  Nevertheless, it is easier to work with highly skilled, but helping low-skilled is more rewarding. Again, in  particular with low-skilled, one should avoid boosting a culture of dependency. Empowerment of refugees in  respect to their own lives should be the basic approach upon one can build programs and policy.

Integration is, in fact, the framework for every specific action to be directed towards refugees, as its  effects can be seen everywhere. A more integrated person manages to find a job or a place to live easier, and,  overall, has at least a basic toolkit for navigating the day to day life at the destination. However, integration is a  two-way street, as it involves both the entity to be integrated and the entity towards which the integration is  oriented.

Finally, at a time when discrimination, prejudice, racism and xenophobia are on the rise, it is our duty,  out of legal, moral and economic imperatives, to fight for the fundamental rights, values and freedoms of the EU  and for more cohesive societies


1 UNHCR Executive Committee, Conclusion on Local Integration, no. 104 (LVI) – 2005 

2In the EU, guidelines for granting international protection to those who need it are set out in the Directive on the conditions for  international protection.  

3For details see Valtonen (2004) in Smyth, Stewart and Da Lomba (2010), Critical reflections on refugee integration: lessons from  international perspectives, p. 411. 

4For details see Stephen Castles (2002), Migration and Community Formation under Conditions of Globalization, University of Oxford. 5 Council of the European Union, Council Directive 2004/83 / EC of 29 April 2004 on minimum standards on the conditions to be met by  third-country nationals or stateless persons in order to benefit from refugee status or persons who, for other reasons, need international  protection and on the content of the protection granted, (Qualification Directive), published in OJ L 304/12, from 30.9.2004.


7 Andrejuk, K. (2017). Self-employed migrants from EU Member States in Poland: differentiated professional trajectories and explanations  of entrepreneurial success. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 43(4), pp. 560-577. 

8 Croucher, S. (2009). Migrants of privilege: The political transnationalism of Americans in Mexico. Identities: Global Studies in Culture  and Power, 16(4), 463-491