Actions and tools for integration
This report presents the EU and national level achievements with regard to integration-related issues, namely participation, diversity management and policy evaluation. It also provides the strategies for future work, focusing in particular on the roles employment, social inclusion and education play in terms of strengthening immigrants’ participation and thus contributing to their integration in the host societies.
Commission Staff Working Document of 8 October 2008 – Strengthening actions and tools to meet integration challenges – Report to the 2008 Ministerial Conference on Integration [SEC(2008) 2626 – Not published in the Official Journal].
This report presents the past actions and those that still need to be taken in order to develop European integration policies. The focus rests on participation, diversity management and common indicators, the priority areas for the approaches to integration. Attention is also brought to developments in the fields of employment, social inclusion and education as means of fostering immigrants’ participation in their host societies.
Promoting immigrants’ access to rights and fulfilment of their responsibilities as citizens allows for the creation of a closer connection with the host societies. Although forms of participation and policies on citizenship are varied, Member States’ policies on participation remain insufficient. In order to further immigrants’ integration, their participation in the democratic process must be supported. At the same time, information on the criteria for acquiring nationality needs to be provided and the administrative barriers reduced.
At the European Union (EU) level, integration is considered as a “dynamic two-way process of mutual accommodation” by both the immigrants and the host societies. Several migration-related diversity initiatives have already been launched at the EU and national levels. The two imminent initiatives that aim to bring together immigrants and the host populations consist of a one-stop-shop website on integration for networking among stakeholders and the European Integration Forum for dialoguing with the organised civil society. However, additional work needs to be undertaken by the host societies to foster understanding of immigrants and to guarantee immigrants’ participation.
Effective integration policies can empower immigrants and thus contribute to the prevention of their social alienation. Several initiatives that bring together stakeholders to discuss issues relating to intercultural dialogue and their role in the integration of immigrants have already been pursued. Intercultural and inter-/intra-religious dialogue are seen as effective tools in the fight against racism, xenophobia, discrimination and isolation of immigrants. However, intercultural competences must be further developed by taking a sustainable and cross-sectoral approach to intercultural dialogue and by mainstreaming it into all relevant policy areas.
Integration processes have already been the focus of several studies and different integration measures have already been initiated at the EU and national levels. Therefore, it is essential to build on these experiences by using them as a basis for the common European modules for integration. The foundation for these modules will be derived, in particular, from the Handbooks on Integration. The aim is to provide a flexible and adaptable reference point for the creation of comprehensive integration programmes.
Monitoring and evaluation practices are essential for developing and improving integration policies. Several solutions for developing common indexes already exist; nevertheless, more systematic approaches are needed for the collection, analysis and dissemination of information relating to integration. To this end, the Commission, in cooperation with experts, aims to conceive appropriate indicators that will also concentrate on the outcomes and deliverables and allow for the comparative analysis of integration policies. The results derived from these indicators will be published on the future website on integration.
In order to further promote the participation of immigrants, their integration in terms of employment, social inclusion and education should be ensured. Employment, in particular, is considered as integral to immigrants’ participation in the host society and as an essential element in the integration process. Consequently, immigrants’ access to the labour market should be facilitated.
Social inclusion and access to social protection are also crucial to the integration process. Poverty, barriers to accessing social services and discrimination undermine immigrants’ participation in the host society. Therefore, immigrants’ social inclusion constitutes one of the priorities within the EU social inclusion strategy. This topic will form the subject of the 2010 European thematic year.
Education and training must also be incorporated into integration policies as they are fundamental in promoting immigrants’ participation. At the same time, education and training also provide the material for building cultural bridges and hence a more cohesive society. For the moment though, immigrant children and youth face particular educational challenges that need to be addressed.
This report is in response to the Council Conclusions on integration of June 2007. The Council had called on the Commission to report back on the consolidation of the Common Agenda for Integration that was adopted in 2005 and on the implementation of the Common Basic Principles on integration (CBPs). It also follows on from the Commission Communication “A Common Immigration Policy for Europe: Principles, actions and tools” of June 2008.