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Civic integration: the end of national models? The framing of civic integration policies in the Netherlands and France

Open Panel

Abstract

A core element in the much debated convergence of the policies and politics of migration and integration in contemporary Europe seems to be the introduction of civic integration policies. Originally, such civic integration programs were introduced to provide immigrants with the knowledge and (language) skills deemed necessary for their integration in their new country of residence, particularly in the labour market. In recent years however, a growing number of EU countries have made entry and residence rights conditional on participation in or successful completion of civic integration courses. Without denying the existence of this European trend, we contend that an empirical investigation of its concrete manifestations in different national contexts is necessary. One crucial question is whether this policy convergence reflects ‘the end of national models’, as Christian Joppke has argued, i.e. the disappearance of national specificities in the definition of and policy approach to national identity and community, social cohesion and immigrant incorporation. This paper presents a comparative analysis of the civic integration policies implemented in recent years in the Netherlands and in France, as well as the political debates in which they were framed. These two countries have long been considered examples par excellence of two opposite models of immigrant incorporation, i.e. multiculturalism and assimilation respectively, but have both in recent years introduced civic integration policies which – at least at first sight – are very similar.