European Ministerial Conference on integration strongly supports EESC opinion on the creation of a European Integration Forum
Mr Pariza Castaños (Group II – Employees, Spain), rapporteur for the exploratory opinion on the European Integration Forum, presented the opinion (CESE 1208/2008) at the European Ministerial Conference on integration in Vichy on 3 and 4 November 2008. The French Minister, Brice Hortefeux, on behalf of the EU Presidency, alongside the other Ministers, the Commissioner responsible for Justice, Freedom and Security, Mr Barrot, and the President of the EP LIBE Committee, Mr Deprez, expressed strong support for this initiative and urged the Committee and the Commission to continue their efforts to ensure greater civil society involvement in the preparation of EU integration policies.
The Forum, which was first proposed by the European Council in 2005 as a tool for European integration policy, has gained momentum thanks to the important support it received from the Council. As confirmed by Commissioner Barrot, it will most probably hold its first meeting at the EESC during the first half of 2009.
It should also be underlined that the invitation of the EESC to attend the European Ministerial Conference on integration, which was made at the previous meeting in Potsdam (2007), comes as recognition of the institutional role and political weight that the EESC has gained in recent years in the field of immigration. Moreover, it confirms the EESC approach, as pointed out by Mr Pariza Castaños, that "civil society organisations and more specifically, immigrant associations are ensured of greater involvement in the preparation and promotion of EU integration policies".
To read the text of the opinion please consult our website: