Integration tests: helping or hindering integration?
- Parliamentary Assembly
debate on 29 January 2014 (6th Sitting) (see Doc. 13361, report of the Committee on Migration, Refugees and
Displaced Persons, rapporteur: Ms Tineke Strik). Text adopted by the Assembly on
29 January 2014 (6th Sitting).
The Parliamentary Assembly refers
to its Resolution 1973
on integration tests: helping or hindering integration?
2. The Assembly notes that knowledge of a receiving society’s
language(s) facilitates the successful integration of migrants.
This is the foundation on which integration tests were introduced
by a small number of member States and why they have been embraced
by a growing number of them. These tests are now applied not only
for citizenship, but also for residence and even as a pre-entry
requirement, notably for family reunion purposes.
3. Statistics and evaluation studies show that language and integration
tests have led to a decrease in the number of applicants for family
reunification, permanent residence permits and naturalisation. These
tests can also have a discriminatory impact, depending on the gender,
age, educational background and nationality of the people concerned.
This raises serious questions as to whether tests which are connected
to the granting of residence rights are the right instrument for
promoting the integration of migrants. Therefore, serious reconsideration
of the policy of merely testing and demanding a certain level of
knowledge, rather than promoting language skills and integration,
4. Not only has the use of tests increased significantly, but
the standards required have reached higher levels, often using the
Council of Europe’s Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning,
Teaching, Assessment (CEFR) as a benchmark.
5. The Assembly notes that the CEFR offers reference levels which
are widely used for evaluating language competences and represents
one of the many successes of the Council of Europe. It recognises, however,
that this instrument was never developed as a mechanism for establishing
whether or not a certain language level was indicative of a degree
of integration. It is only a measure of linguistic ability.
6. The Assembly also notes the important activities carried out
by the Language Policy Unit of the Council of Europe (Education
Department, DG II), and in particular its work on the linguistic
integration of adult migrants (LIAM).
In this context, the Assembly invites the Committee of Ministers
7.1 undertake, though its Language
Policy Unit, further work in respect of the CEFR, in order to identify
appropriate ways of drawing on its content in the integration process.
In this respect, the committee may consider it appropriate to produce
guidelines on how the CEFR can be used and the limitations to its
use for purposes of integration evaluation, or examine an alternative
tool, based on the CEFR, which might be more appropriate for these
purposes than language proficiency levels;
7.2 put forward alternatives to integration/language tests
as a means of promoting and measuring integration and improving
the prospects for integration of migrants and would-be migrants;
7.3 promote further the work of the Council of Europe on the
linguistic integration of adult migrants.