Brussels, 12 November 2009
Civil society organisations to discuss EU priorities for integration of immigrants at the 2 nd European Integration Forum
Representatives of civil society organisations from all Member States gather today and tomorrow in Brussels to discuss future priorities for the integration of immigrants in the European Union. They will meet the European institutions to express their views on common policies and funding to promote integration of third-country nationals in Member States. This is the second meeting of the European Integration Forum, convened twice a year by the Commission together with the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC).
Commission Vice President Jacques Barrot, in charge of Justice, Freedom and Security, said: " Successful integration of immigrants is a key component of the new five-year programme on justice, freedom and security that we are about to agree. The expert voice of civil society organisations who actively promote integration of third-country nationals will inspire actions taken by the Commission in the next years. This second meeting of the European Integration Forum consolidates a deliberative community conceived to think integration policies together".
The President of the European Economic and Social Committee, Mario Sepi, added:
"Integration is a reality which individuals live in their daily life: civil society organisations which work for the integration of immigrants have a vital role to play. This is even more important in a period of deep economic and social crisis where immigrants are often the first victims. By the European Integration Forum our two institutions, as well as the Council and the European Parliament, which actively participate in our meetings, intend to listen very carefully to these voices and take them into serious account within our decision making process
The Commission and the EESC want to promote a comprehensive approach to integration, incorporating ideas from stakeholders in all policy fields with an impact on integration. Consultation of civil society organisations provides added value to EU policy-making. This second meeting of the European Integration Forum focuses on the priorities that will guide common EU actions to promote the integration of third-country nationals during the next five years. Two plenary sessions will be followed by workshops focusing on the future EU agenda for a cross-cutting integration policy and on the European Integration Fund.
Stakeholders with experience in integration will meet representatives of the Commission and the European Economic and Social Committee, together with the European Parliament, the Committee of the Regions, the current Swedish Presidency and the future Spanish Presidency of the Council. Civil society contributions will inspire the Commission in the implementation of the Stockholm Programme, which will be adopted at the European Council in December.
The 'physical' and the 'virtual' forums
The European Integration Forum is a platform for debate and consultation that meets twice a year to discuss integration policies at local, regional, national and European levels. The European Integration Forum held its inaugural meeting last April also in Brussels. The Forum complements the European Web Site on Integration ( ), launched at the same time. This website intends to be a virtual forum of discussion and exchange of good practice between all actors committed to making integration work: NGOs, decision-makers, academics, etc. The website offers updated information on integration policies, practices and funding programmes in each Member State and at EU level. Both the European Integration Forum and the European Web Site on Integration are tools for civil society engagement on integration of migrants.