Publication date: 20 October 2020

Integrating young refugees in the EU - Country information

The EU Fundamental Rights Agency published in 2019 its report on the ‘Integration of young refugees in the EU’. The report explored the challenges of young people who fled armed conflict or persecution and arrived in the EU in 2015 and 2016. The report is based on 426 interviews with experts working in the area of asylum and integration, as well as 163 interviews with young people, aged 16 to 24, conducted between October 2017 and June 2018 in 15 regions and cities located in six Member States: Austria, France, Germany, Greece, Italy and Sweden. The links on this page provide a summary of the information collected during this period for each country about unaccompanied children turning 18 and the change in people’s legal status once international protection is granted. These two issues had at the time been identified as moments requiring sufficient, consistent and systematic support, particularly from lawyers, social workers and guardians, to ensure successful integration.

Overview

Hundreds of thousands of young people arrived in the European Union in 2015–16.

EU Member States’ asylum, border management, reception, social welfare and educational systems were not always adequately prepared to receive them. The reality on the ground, with thousands of people staying in overcrowded centres and makeshift camps, required action.

The EU Fundamental Rights Agency’s report ‘Integration of young refugees in the EU’ explores the challenges of young people who fled armed conflict or persecution and arrived in the EU in 2015 and 2016. The report is based on 426 interviews with experts working in the area of asylum and integration, as well as 163 interviews with young people, aged 16 to 24, conducted between October 2017 and June 2018 in 15 regions and cities located in six Member States: Austria, France, Germany, Greece, Italy and Sweden. 

The report describes challenges and good practices identified at the time of the research across different policy fields regulating refugees’ rights as set out in EU asylum law, as well as the difficulties young refugees face when claiming asylum, navigating welfare systems and trying to access housing, education and health services. The report shows how measures taken in one policy field often affect the degree to which individuals are able to enjoy their rights in other fields.

The research identifies two moments requiring sufficient, consistent and systematic support, particularly from lawyers, social workers and guardians, to ensure successful integration:

  • Unaccompanied children turning 18

  • Change in people’s legal status once international protection is granted

Austria

Hundreds of thousands of young people arrived in the European Union in 2015–16. In Austria, more than 125,000 persons applied for asylum during this time, including some 107,000 – more than 85 % – below the age of 35.

In Austria, the research focused on Vienna and Upper Austria.

France

Hundreds of thousands of young people arrived in the European Union in 2015–16. In France, more than 147,000 persons applied for asylum during this time, including more than 111,000 – 3 in 4 persons – below the age of 35.

In France, the research focused on Hauts-de-France, Ȋle-de-France and Provence-Alpes-Côte-d’Azur.

Germany

Hundreds of thousands of young people arrived in the European Union in 2015–16. In Germany, of 1.16 million asylum applicants, nearly one million – some 85 % – were below the age of 35.

In Germany, the research focused on Berlin, Bremen and Lower Saxony.

Greece

Hundreds of thousands of young people arrived in the European Union in 2015–16. In Greece, more than 61,000 persons applied for asylum in Greece during this time, including some 50,000 – more than 80 % – below the age of 35.

In Greece, the research focused on Athens and Lesbos.

Key challenges for integration

  • Social benefits are not available due to the economic crisis, although formally, refugees have the same rights as Greek citizens. The ESTIA programme provides cash assistance to asylum applicants. The HELIOS program supports a certain number of beneficiaries of international protection, including by providing rental allowances.
  • Practical obstacles include bureaucratic and language barriers to issuing social security or tax registration numbers and a lack of comprehensible information on the application procedures.
  • Unaccompanied children faced challenges due to the lack of an effective guardianship system.

Illustrative quotes

“90 Euros is not a sufficient amount. For example, you need to buy shampoo, soap, or sometimes you don’t like the food here (means Kara Tepe) and you want to buy something else. 90 Euros is not enough. Do I get food? Do I give them to buy tickets for the bus? And if I need something else?“ (Asylum applicant from Afghanistan)

FRA opinions

The following are extracts from relevant FRA opinions:

  • EU Member States should ensure that refugees receive all social welfare benefits they are entitled to under EU law. They should consider providing the same entitlements to subsidiary protection status holders in need of support.
  • EU Member States should remove practical obstacles that impede access to social welfare benefits – for example, by providing information in clear, accessible and non-bureaucratic language and offering language support, where needed. 

Italy

Hundreds of thousands of young people arrived in the European Union in 2015–16. In Italy, nearly 204,000 persons applied for asylum during this time, including more than 183,000 – 9 of 10 persons – below the age of 35.

In Italy, the research focused on Milan, Reggio Calabria province and Rome.

Sweden

Hundreds of thousands of young people arrived in the European Union in 2015–16. In Sweden, nearly 179,000 persons applied for asylum during this time, including some 148,000 persons – more than 82 % – below the age of 35.

In Sweden, the research focused on Norrbotten and Västra Götaland.