A new Migration Policy Institute Europe report "Decentralising Immigrant Integration: Denmark's mainstreaming initiatives in employment, education, and social affairs"

The topic of immigrant integration has been highly politicised in Denmark, and has been decisive for the outcome of elections. Denmark was among the first European countries to develop and implement a comprehensive Act of Integration, in 1998. It was also among the first to centralise the coordination of integration efforts in one ministry, collecting competences from the various ministries and agencies previously responsible for integration efforts. 
The most recent shift in Denmark's national integration policy framework is toward 'mainstreaming' services (i.e., addressing the entire population instead of targeting a specific group) and decentralising their coordination, having abolished the centralised Ministry for Refugees, Immigrants, and Integration in 2011. However, mainstreaming is difficult at the national level since integration policies—even if designed centrally—are implemented at the local level.

A new Migration Policy Institute Europe report, Decentralising Immigrant Integration: Denmark's mainstreaming initiatives in employment, education, and social affairs, examines the development of immigrant integration policies in Denmark over the past 15 years, specifically focusing on the decentralisation of Danish integration policies. The report explores differences between policy frameworks at national and local levels, where certain areas have developed less restrictive and more accommodating policy responses to immigrant integration.

On a national level, one goal of the current integration policy is to embed integration efforts into regular (economic) operation, although the term mainstreaming is not used to describe these efforts. The report details various examples of mainstreaming immigrant integration policies that can be found in both labour market and education policies.

The report also examines the cities of Copenhagen and Aarhus, and finds that the two municipalities have undertaken a more deliberate approach to mainstreaming. This approach can be seen in both word and action throughout the cities.

It is a challenge to evaluate the effects of a mainstreamed approach. While progress toward specific goals—e.g., lower immigrant unemployment rates—can be measured, it is difficult to assess which initiatives were responsible. The report analyses such evaluation and offers recommendations to deepen the understanding of mainstreaming as a wider policy framework in Denmark.

This MPI Europe report is the final in a series that examines the degree to which four European countries that are relative veterans regarding the reception and integration of immigrants—Denmark, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom—have mainstreamed integration priorities across general policy areas such as education, employment, and social cohesion. To read the individual country case studies and overview report, visit www.mpieurope.org.