The purpose of the toolkit is to help set up local integration strategies supported by EU resources used in synergy, still in the current 2014-2020 budget period.
Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos said: "Investing in integration policies today is key to making sure Europe stays a prosperous, cohesive, and inclusive society in the future. This will be our priority for the coming years. It is only through successful integration that we can make migration a real opportunity for all, for our citizens, for migrants and refugees, and for our societies overall."
Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen, added: "The optimal use of EU funds, like the European Social Fund, plays an important role in supporting the integration of people with a migrant background, while further continuing to invest in the EU's existing work force. In addition, we have set up a Skills Profile Tool that helps third-country nationals present their skills on the European labour market."
Commissioner for Regional policy Corina Crețu commented: "The EU's ambition is to turn the migration challenge into opportunities for our societies and economies. This toolkit is a brick in that wall; it will contribute to a successful integration of migrants at local level, supported by the EU and its resources."
The toolkit identifies five priorities for holistic and efficient long-term integration strategies: reception; education; employment; housing; and access to public services. It lists the most pressing challenges under these five priorities and suggests adequate support measures, each one of them matched with the right EU fund.
For example, in the field of education, different EU funds can be used jointly to make schools more inclusive and non-segregated: upgraded and accessible facilities can be financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The European Social Fund (ESF) and the AMIF can support special training for educators to help them tackle dropout, while the FEAD can provide material assistance to students in need.
Member States and regions have a wide range of EU funding instruments at their disposal that can support different types of projects in the field of integration – from providing language classes and healthcare upon arrival to helping migrants find a job, a home to live in and a place in society. This includes funding under the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESI Funds), the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) or the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD).
Whilst responsibility for integration lies primarily with the Member States, in the 2016 Action Plan on Integration the EU has established measures to provide incentives and support for Member States in their efforts to promote integration of third country nationals. This includes dedicated funding and instruments addressing social and economic cohesion across Member States.
In addition, one of the actions under the New Skills Agenda for Europe includes the set-up of the EU Skills Profile Tool for Third-Country Nationals, an off – and online tool that will make it it possible for non-EU nationals to present their skills, qualifications, and experiences in a way that is well understood by employers, education and training providers and organisations working with migrants across the whole European Union.
In the mid-term review of the 2014-2020 budget framework, the Commission proposed to introduce a new priority for investments in the current Cohesion Policy regulation, solely dedicated to the integration of migrants. This aims to facilitate the modification of Cohesion Policy programmes to redirect funding towards new priorities arising from the migration challenge.
Launch event of the toolkit in the European Economic and Social Committee