EU Migration: Well integrated migrants enrich the EU economically and culturally says Commission

By: Information Daily Staff Writer
Published: Thursday, July 21, 2011 - 13:37 GMT Jump to Comments

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.

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.

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