Evaluation of EPIM III: Emerging Insights From the Evaluation So Far

by Ben Baruch; Emily Scraggs; Emma Disley; Jennifer Rubin; Joachim Krapels

Jan 1, 2014

This report sets out some emerging insights from the ongoing evaluation of the European Programme for Integration and Migration (EPIM) 2012-2015 programme. The activities of EPIM and this evaluation lie at the very heart of EPIM's efforts to strengthen the capacity of NGOs active in migration and integration issues, to engage with and influence decision-making at EU and Member state levels, and to do so by drawing on a rigorous evidence base, and through a pragmatic approach. Founded in 2005 as an activity of the Network of European Foundations (NEF) in a unique effort to fund European migration and integration organisations, EPIM's activities include strategic grant-making as well as networking, capacity-building, supporting advocacy and policy work. The Programme has now disbursed over €3m to more than 24 grantee organisations. Drawing on experience and learning from previous phases, EPIM's current three core areas of focus are asylum seekers, undocumented migrants, and equality, integration and social inclusion of vulnerable migrants. Recognising the importance of the role played by civil society, one of EPIM's key goals is to strengthen the advocacy capacities of NGOs at the European level. This goal reflects the fact that over the past decade the EU has become an important actor in the field of immigration and asylum, as well as that the majority of countries face some challenges in this area.

  • In order to implement the strategic objective of stakeholder engagement grantees can capitalise on data and reports they have produced as opportunities to engage with stakeholders.
  • Engagement based on products can be through specific events which bring people together or proactively taking steps to ensure these reports come to the attention of policymakers and stakeholders, including the use.
  • Chances for engagement may be enhanced when the outputs can be used by stakeholders in their work -- for example, the AIDA database can be used by the EASO.
  • For general public audiences, film, theatre and other non-traditional formats might be useful modes of engagement.
  • EU-level activities and focus can add value to work at national levels, and vice-versa. Grantees might identify opportunities to coordinate domestic and EU-level activities on a particular project or issue to maximise credibility and impact.
  • Good links with policymakers at EU level allow grantees to understand where to focus their awareness raising efforts -- on which issues there is the possibility for change and reform at EU-level, and where the national level is the most promising target for change.
  • Securing support from influential individuals who have a voice and can publicise the message of grantees can be an effective way to raise awareness. But it is important to mitigate the risk of over-reliance on individuals or particular organisations, perhaps through developing a number of such relationships.
  • Networks and partnerships can be used to publicise key messages so that they reach a wide range of audiences.
  • Networks can provide links to key officials in EU institutions, for example press and communications officers.
  • Networks add value because they demonstrate that a particular point is more broadly supported than just by an individual NGO or grantee.
  • Building large coalitions of organisations and stakeholders can be powerful way to communicate a message. However, reaching consensus within a large coalition is time-consuming and requires extensive communication with all parties involved to retain engagement and to avoid estrangement.
  • Grantees should capitalise on the knowledge they have which policymakers do not. Most commonly this is "on the ground" information about experiences of migrants and asylum seekers, but might also stem from legal expertise.
  • A grantees' reputation might mean they are pro-actively approached for information by policymakers. Consultations on proposed policy change are a key way in which grantees are able to use their knowledge to inform policymaking and demonstrate their expertise to policymakers.
  • Conducting a variety of different types of meetings in a range of formats can offer specific benefits for grantees when trying to engage stakeholders.
  • Smaller settings and groups can offer stakeholders an informal and relatively "safe" discussion forum. These can also facilitate ongoing relationship-building.
  • Meetings involving stakeholders present an opportunity for follow-up interactions initiated by grantees to provide notes, materials, articles, summaries etc.
  • Developing a specialist profile and being supportive and responsive to the European Commission can generate engagement.
  • Promoting a tool that policy makers and other stakeholders might find useful can help to build engagement.
  • Apart from highlighting areas for improvement, emphasising what is working well can be important in relationship-building with the Commission.
  • Strategic litigation can be a slow and expensive approach to bringing about legislative change -- but can be effective.
  • The use of strategic litigation can result in challenging laws and their application, which can directly affect policy.
  • Links between national issues and European level media are important to ensure relevance and retain interest.
  • It can be useful to have a coordinated plan for engaging with the range of different media points.
  • Getting ahead of media requests by being proactive can offer opportunities to grantee organisations.
  • Offering opinion pieces and media articles can help grantees to keep control over the messages published in the media and can also enable and facilitate relationship-building with journalists..
  • Personal stories and narratives, although sometimes difficult to source, are very popular with the media and can offer a useful way of raising the profile of an issue.
  • Building a network of interested journalists can assist with raising media profile.
  • It can be useful to engage with journalists in general as well as in specific contexts -- e.g. inviting them to conferences and meetings.
  • The ability to respond quickly to the publications requirements and timetable of the media is critical to developing a media presence. This requires resources in terms of staff time and expertise.
  • Social media can clearly play a role -- especially when coordinated with other media contexts.
  • Working with media companies provided grantees with useful insight into new ways of engaging with media, but should be entered into with the expectation that there will be negotiation about the nature and content of messages. The agreed approach and deliverables should be set out in writing.
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