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Common framework for the integration of non-EU nationals
This communication is the first step in the creation of a coherent European framework for integration of non-European Union (EU) nationals. It proposes concrete national and EU level measures for putting the Common Basic Principles (CBPs) into practice, together with a series of supportive EU mechanisms.
Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 1 September 2005 – A Common Agenda for Integration – Framework for the Integration of Third-Country Nationals in the European Union [COM(2005) 389 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
The communication draws from European Union (EU) level developments in legal migration and the integration of non-EU nationals. It is a first step in the establishment of a coherent framework for integration, proposing concrete measures at EU and national level for putting the Common Basic Principles (CBPs) into practice.
Common Basic Principles (CBPs)
The concrete measures proposed in the communication aim to provide guidance for national and EU integration policies. Any of the actions EU countries choose to carry out must include a gender perspective and take account of the particular situation of young people.
"Integration is a dynamic, two-way process of mutual accommodation by all immigrants and residents of EU countries." The Commission proposes that at national level:
- the ability of the host society to adjust to diversity is strengthened;
- the role of private bodies in managing diversity is enhanced;
- trust and good relations within neighbourhoods are promoted;
- cooperation with the media is encouraged.
At the same time, transnational actions and projects to explore new forms of European cooperation should be supported at EU level.
"Integration implies respect for the basic values of the EU." The Commission proposes emphasising civic orientation in introduction programmes at national level. At European level, the integration of non-EU nationals should be included in future programmes of the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA), while effective ways to raise public awareness about the basic values of the EU are explored.
"Employment is a key part of the integration process." The Commission proposes that at national level:
- labour-market discrimination is prevented;
- social partners are involved in the elaboration and implementation of integration measures;
- the recruitment of migrants is encouraged and migrant entrepreneurship is supported.
At European level, the Commission proposes:
- monitoring the impact of national reform programmes on labour-market integration of immigrants;
- encouraging EU countries to develop labour-market integration policies;
- monitoring the application of the directives on discrimination in employment and on non-EU nationals who are long-term residents.
"Basic knowledge of the host society’s language, history and institutions is indispensable to integration." At national level, the Commission proposes strengthening the integration component through pre-departure measures and organising introduction programmes that offer courses at several levels. At European level, transnational actions and innovative integration models should be supported.
"Efforts in education are critical to integration." The Commission proposes that diversity be reflected in the school curriculum and that the specific problems of young immigrants, such as participation in higher education, be taken into account at national level. Actions at EU level should include the incorporation of integration objectives into educational programmes (Education and Training 2010) and the facilitation of transparent recognition of qualifications (European Qualifications Framework).
"Access for immigrants to institutions as well as to public and private goods and services in a non-discriminatory way is a critical foundation for better integration." The Commission proposes the following national level actions:
- strengthening the capacity of public and private service providers to interact with non-EU nationals;
- introducing sustainable organisational structures for integration and schemes to gather and analyse information;
- engaging companies in debates on integration;
- integrating intercultural competence into recruitment and training policies.
At European level, the application of the directives on non-EU nationals who are long-term residents and on equal treatment should be monitored and studies and exchanges of best practices should be supported.
"Frequent interaction between immigrants and EU citizens is a fundamental mechanism for integration." At national level, the Commission proposes that activities in which immigrants interact with the host society are promoted and that their living environment is improved. Simultaneously, at European level:
- the integration dimension in social inclusion and social protection policies should be strengthened;
- the exchange of information and good practice should be encouraged;
- transnational cooperation at regional, local and municipal level between public authorities, private enterprises and civil society, including migrants' associations, should be supported.
"The practice of diverse cultures and religions must be safeguarded." The Commission proposes developing constructive intercultural dialogue and public discourse and promoting inter- and intra-faith dialogue platforms at national level. At European level, it proposes facilitating intercultural and inter-religious dialogue and further developing dialogue with religious and humanist organisations.
"The participation of immigrants in the democratic process and in the formulation of integration policies supports their integration." At national level, the Commission proposes that:
- civic, cultural and political participation of non-EU nationals in the host society is increased;
- dialogue and consultation with non-EU nationals is encouraged;
- active citizenship is promoted;
- national preparatory citizenship and naturalisation programmes are drawn up.
At EU level, it proposes that a study/mapping exercise of the rights and obligations of non-EU nationals in EU countries is initiated, the creation of a platform of migrants’ organisations is fostered and the value of developing a concept of civic citizenship is explored.
A coherent EU level approach
The Commission also proposes measures to encourage a more coherent European approach towards integration. At national level, this involves mainstreaming integration in all relevant policies and reinforcing the capacity to coordinate national integration strategies across different levels of government. At EU level, it entails the strengthening of the network of National Contact Points (NCPs) and the developing of cooperation among responsible institutions and services. It is also necessary to carry out national evaluations and to enhance the capacity to collect, analyse and disseminate national statistics related to integration. In addition, statistical tools and common indicators should be developed at European level. The European Migration Network should also be further developed.
The NCPs will continue to be central in monitoring the development of integration strategies across different policy fields as well as in ensuring that national and EU level activities are mutually reinforcing. They will also continue work on the Handbook on Integration (second edition planned for 2006), which will focus on housing and urban issues, access to health and social services, integration in the labour market and integration infrastructure, firmly incorporating the CBPs into the analysis. The Commission is planning to launch a tender for a web portal for European experiences on immigrant integration and will set up a European Integration Forum to promote the effective participation of stakeholders at EU level. The forum’s main functions will be consultation, exchange of expertise and drawing up recommendations to be published on the integration website. The Commission will continue to draw up an annual report on migration and integration as a means of monitoring the further development of integration policies in the EU.
In 2002, the Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) Council requested the establishment of NCPs on integration. In June 2003, the European Council confirmed that mandate and invited the Commission to present annual reports on migration and integration.
In its 2003 communication on immigration, integration and employment, the Commission set out a holistic approach to integration. In November 2004, the first edition of the Handbook on Integration for Policy Makers and Practitioners was published.
The Hague Programme, adopted by the European Council on 4 and 5 November 2004, underlined the need for greater coordination of national integration policies and EU initiatives in this field. On 19 November 2004, the JHA Council adopted CBPs to underpin a coherent European framework on integration of non-EU nationals.