This paper sets out the methodological and conceptual framework for the European Migration Academy (EU-MIA) project. The aim of the project is to establish dynamic and operational connections between researchers, practitioners and training institutions in Europe. This will create an innovative structural base on which local integration policies are generated and implemented in the EU. This paper sets out the theoretical and methodological considerations that inform the project methodology. It indicates how the key terms of the project are defined, including integration and integration policy. It then sets out the current policy context in which research was carried out, showing the centrality of local and regional levels of governance, the importance of mainstreaming, and the challenges posed by fiscal austerity.