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European Commission - Press release

European Agenda for Integration - well integrated migrants enrich the EU economically and culturally

Brussels, 20 July 2011 – Today the Commission adopted a 'European Agenda for the Integration of Third-Country Nationals' to enhance the economic, social and cultural benefits of migration in Europe. The Agenda puts the emphasis on migrants' full participation in all aspects of collective life and highlights the key role of local authorities.

Cecilia Malmström, the European Commissioner for Home Affairs, said: "Successful integration implies that migrants are given the opportunity to participate fully in their new communities. Learning the language of the receiving country, getting access to employment and education and having the socio-economic capacity to support themselves are crucial elements for a successful integration. To date, integration of migrants in Europe has not been very successful. We must all do more – for the sake of the people coming here, but also since well-integrated migrants are an asset for the EU, as they enrich our societies culturally and economically."

A qualitative Eurobarometer on integration, which was carried out this spring, was also presented today. It enables open exchange of views of both EU citizens and migrants and shows that they share a number of views on integration. There is broad agreement on the importance of interaction at work and in schools and on the positive contribution of migrants to the local culture. Both groups agree on the factors that make integration work: speaking the language, getting a job and understanding the local culture.EU citizens and migrants participating in the survey also agreed that greater efforts are needed from all sides in order to benefit from immigration. The lack of language skills and the segregation of migrants in disadvantaged neighbourhoods are perceived as the main barriers to integration. These issues require determined and consistent action from everyone.

More follows

Background

Diversity brought by migration, if well managed, can be a competitive advantage and a source of dynamism for the European economies. If the EU is to meet its target to bring the level of employment to 75% by 2020, it is vital to remove barriers for migrants' access to employment – not least since the European workforce is decreasing as a consequence of the demographic challenge that the EU is facing. The European Union's workforce will decline by approximately 50 million by 2060 compared to 2008 – in 2010 there were 3.5 persons of working age (20-64) for every person aged 65 or over; in 2060 the ratio is expected to be 1.7 to 1 For example, in terms of future demand for carers for the elderly, the Commission's 2010 Agenda for new skills and jobs estimates that by 2020 there will be a shortage of about 1 million professionals in the health sector - and up to 2 million if ancillary healthcare professions are taken into account.

Ensuring that migrants enjoy the same rights and have the same responsibilities as EU citizens is at the core of the integration process. Discrimination and the non recognition of education and experience acquired outside the EU are some of the obstacles putting migrants at risk of unemployment, underemployment and exploitation.

Integration must start where people meet every day (work places, schools, public areas, etc). Measures to strengthen democratic participation should include training and mentors, facilitating for migrants to vote in local elections, creating local, regional and national consultative bodies, or encouraging entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation.

Language skills lead to better job opportunities, support social contact-making and give migrants independence. This is particularly important for migrant women who otherwise may be fairly isolated. The European Agenda for Integration highlights that language training and introduction programmes must be financially and geographically accessible.

The integration process requires close cooperation between the national governments, who remain responsible for defining their integration policies, and local or regional authorities and non-state actors, who are implementing integration measures on the ground. The EU supports such measures through its instruments and future EU funding should focus more on promoting integration at local level.

In order to reinforce coordination and knowledge exchange, the Commission is developing a flexible European toolbox, consisting of integration modules to support policies and practices in Member States. They build on the experiences of what works and what does not work to support integration, for example to organise introductory and language courses, ensure a strong commitment by the receiving society and enhance migrants' participation. These modules can be adapted to the needs of Member States, regions and cities. Common European indicators have also been identified to monitor results of integration policies.

This Communication responds to a request in the Stockholm Programme, calling on the Commission to enhance coordination and improve tools and structures for knowledge exchange in the area of integration.

It builds on the new legal basis introduced in the Lisbon Treaty for incentives and support to Member States' actions to promote the integration of legally residing third-country nationals, excluding harmonisation of legislation.

For more information

MEMO/11/529

MEMO/11/530

Homepage of Cecilia Malmström, Commissioner for Home Affairs:

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/malmstrom/welcome/default_en.htm

Homepage of DG Home Affairs:

http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/home-affairs/index_en.htm

European Web Site on Integration:

http://ec.europa.eu/ewsi

Qualitative Eurobarometer report

http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/whatsnew2011_en.htm

Report from the European Migration Network: Satisfying Labour Demand through Migration

http://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/policies/immigration/docs/Satisfying_Labour_Demand_Through_Migration_FINAL_20110708.pdf

Contacts :

Michele Cercone (+32 2 298 09 63)

Tove Ernst (+32 2 298 67 64)


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