Cyprus

 

2019

  • Rank: Integration denied
  • MIPEX Score (with Health): 41
  • LABOUR MARKET MOBILITY
  • FAMILY REUNION
  • EDUCATION
  • HEALTH
  • POLITICAL PARTICIPATION
  • PERMANENT RESIDENCE
  • ACCESS TO NATIONALITY
  • ANTI-DISCRIMINATION

Key Findings

Changes in policy

Over the past five years, non-EU immigrants benefited from small improvements in integration policies in Cyprus and in most MIPEX countries. Cyprus, like the average MIPEX country, increased its MIPEX score by +2 points from 2014 to 2019. Cyprus is starting to address the major areas of weakness in its integration policy, by providing basic rights and opportunities in the education, health and political system. Schools receive basic guidance on how to support immigrant pupils. The conditions to access healthcare are slightly clearer for legal immigrants.  Immigrant leaders are consulted ad hoc on integration issues.  These improvements concerned some of the most unfavourable policy areas in Cyprus. These changes aimed at improving access to education (e.g., through the publication of general guide on educational opportunities for migrants), political participation (ad-hoc consultation once per year on integration) and health (for legal migrants). However, policies in these areas still have a long way to go to address the major obstacles faced by immigrants in Cyprus.

Positive changes on MIPEX indicators:

  • Educational guidance at all level
  • Strength of national consultive body
  • Healthcare conditions for legal migrants

Negative changes on MIPEX indicators:

  • None

Conclusions and recommendations

Non-EU citizens face more obstacles than opportunities for integration in Cyprus, whose policies barely go halfway to promote integration. Cyprus scores 41 on the 100-point MIPEX Scale, 9 points below the international average (50/100).
 
Cyprus’s approach to integration is categorised by MIPEX as “Immigration without Integration” because its policies still do not reflect Cyprus’ reality as a country of immigration. Non-EU immigrants are denied many basic rights and opportunities and face some uncertainty about their long-term future in Cyprus. They face significant obstacles to participate in many areas of life, from the labour market to family life, education, health, and politics.

A country’s approach to integration matters because policies influence whether or not integration works as a two-way process. The way that governments treat immigrants strongly influences how well immigrants and the public interact and think of each other. Cyprus’s current policies encourage the public to see immigrants as their subordinates and as strangers rather than as equals, neighbours or potential citizens.

Cyprus still needs to invest in basic rights, equal opportunities and long-term security, which are below average when compared to most MIPEX countries. In contrast, other new destination countries are following international reform trends and making these improvements (e.g. Czechia and Greece).

Cyprus’s integration policies are below average for the EU, although its policies are generally similar to other Central and Southeastern European countries. In contrast, integration policies are more developed in Greece and in the other countries in the Mediterranean Sea.

  • Labour market mobility: Slightly unfavourable: This is a major weakness in Cyprus, which is one of the most unfavourable MIPEX countries. Cyprus critically restricts non-EU citizens' access to the labour market, meaning they can almost never change jobs and face major legal and high language barriers to work in other sectors, like self-employment or the public sector. Non-EU residents still lack general and targeted support to improve their situation, and temporary residents do not get any access to social security and assistance.
  • Family reunification: Slightly unfavourable: Separated families are excluded, deterred or rejected under Cyprus' family reunification policy. Long residence requirements, restrictions for dependent relatives, demanding economic requirements and an insecure process and status make Cyprus’s policies among the most restrictive amongst MIPEX countries.
  • Education: Slightly unfavourable: All pupils, regardless of status, should be allowed to access all types of schools, receive ongoing language support and more targeted support and trained teachers in schools. In 2017, the Ministry of Education prepared a general guide on migrant education in a number of different languages However, schools in Cyprus are not used as spaces for social integration for all pupils to learn how to live in a diverse society. 
  • Health: Slightly unfavourable: Migrant health policies are under-developed in Cyprus, much like other Southeastern European countries. The health system provides migrants with basic health information through various means, but little else, as health services and policies are barely responsive to their specific access/health needs. Despite improvements under the new General National Health System in 2019, legal residents, asylum seekers and the undocumented all face conditions and practical obstacles to access the health system, although attached to specific conditions (e.g., insufficient financial means).
  • Political participation: Slightly unfavourable: Non-EU residents living in Cyprus cannot participate in most parts of public life. Little meaningful dialogue can take place in the absence of voting rights, more regular consultation and structural support for immigrant-led associations. 
  • Permanent residence: Halfway favourable: Cyprus' policies are among some of the most restrictive in the EU, with a path to long-term residence that excludes many ‘de facto’ settled residents and deters ordinary immigrants from investing in integration and obtaining the secure and equal status to make Cyprus their home (see instead Italy, Portugal or Spain).
  • Access to nationality: Halfway favourable: While ordinary immigrants can apply for dual nationality after 5 to 7 years, they receive little support to pass the costly and highly discretionary procedure. Their children born or educated in Cyprus are treated like foreigners, without any special entitlement to citizenship (see instead Portugal or Greece).
  • Anti-discrimination: Slightly favourable: Cyprus’ Ombudsman and enforcement mechanisms have traditionally been accessible to the large number of potential ethnic, racial and religious discrimination. Still Cyprus' anti-discrimination policies are one of the lowest scoring in the EU as its laws may be too weak and poorly defined for victims to find justice.

Policy Recommendations from CARDET

  • Support the creation of Immigrants Civil Society and Youth organizations, which will have an active role in the public dialogue on upcoming migration policies and integration initiatives, and also to have active participation in migrant related civil society organizations.
  • Improve the implementation of non-discrimination policies at the workplace by creating specialized observatory bodies and providing training to employers.
  • Creation of a media observatory body for public speech and creation of a coordinating body for issue of non-discrimination and media.
  • Supporting migrants in their integration path as soon as they arrive; design of a policy that combines language and skills training and professional integration.
  • Adopt of an accreditation process to recognize tacit and explicit professional knowledge and expertise of migrants.
  • Establish education responses to address segregation and provide equitable paths to professional growth.
  • Development of Local Integration plans for migrants; While integration policy is set at the national level, actions are generally implemented at the subnational level. Integration must be addressed at local scale, involving municipalities in establishing plans for the housing, education, employment, well-being and inclusion.
  • Local municipalities must be part of the design of policies for the migrants ‘integration; they have also provide feedback to the national policy for changes that have been occurred through their experience on the ground.

POLICIES - SUMMARY

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