Europe is facing an ever-increasing number of refugees and asylum seekers, driven out from their home countries by several large conflicts in the Middle East and Africa. This trend is likely to persist in the coming years creating a need to strengthen integration efforts in host countries

Europe is facing an ever-increasing number of refugees and asylum seekers driven out from their homes by several large conflicts in the Middle East and Africa. It is estimated that there were 1.2 million asylum requests by the end of 2015 in the European Economic Area and Switzerland. This trend is likely as it is to persist and putting pressure on resources of countries tasked with the resettlement and integration of refugees. 

Despite the challenges created by this increasing number of displaced persons, refugees arrive in their destination country with two extraordinary assets, a tremendous capacity to build resilience in the face of adversity and a formidable drive to start a new life. Having successfully survived persecution on grounds such as race, religion, or political opinion, are resilient, industrious, and determined. Studies in countries with long history of hosting refugees establish that foreign nationals are more likely than nationals to establish businesses (particularly during economic downturns), thus contributing to innovation, entrepreneurship economic growth and job development. Refugees have a long history of starting successful businesses in the UK. In the longer term, refugees could also address the EU's alarming demographic trends by improving the ratio of active workers. In the labour market, migrants can fill important niches both in fast-growing and declining sectors of the economy, and contribute to labour-market flexibility.

The above potential rests on the ability of stakeholders to economically and socially integrate refugees rapidly. Evidence shows that the sooner the integration process begins, the more effective it is. This, however, is a considerable challenge given limited resources. Only between 40 and 50 % of refugees are found to have secured steady employment after 5 years. This is wasteful, both in terms of resources used for supporting basic needs for those out of work, as well as wasteful in terms of talent and capabilities of internationally protected persons.  


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