Migrant integration: Commission announces a new EU strategy and presents the third 'Handbook' at the Zaragoza Ministerial Conference
29/04/2010 - EU-wide - English
Posted by : Katy Kefferputz, Migration Policy Group
Representatives from all Member States gathered for two days in Zaragoza from 15 to 16 April to discuss how migrant integration can become a driver for social cohesion in the EU. At this Ministerial Conference, the European Commission released the third edition of its 'Handbook on Integration for policy-makers and practitioners', focussing on the role of mass media in integration, the importance of awareness-raising and migrant empowerment, dialogue platforms, acquisition of nationality and practice of active citizenship, immigrant youth, education and the labour market.
The 'Handbook' completes the set of measures foreseen by the 2005 Common Agenda for Integration, which also included the setting up of the National Contact Points on Integration, the European Web Site on Integration, the European Integration Forum and the European Fund for the Integration of Third-country Nationals. Commissioner Malmström has announced a new EU strategy on integration for the coming years.
The European Commissioner for Home Affairs, Cecilia Malmström, said: "The successful integration of migrants coming legally from third-countries to live and work with us is necessary to guarantee the European social model and values. After consultation with governments and civil society, the Commission will present in 2011 a more comprehensive strategy on migrant integration for the coming years. The Zaragoza Ministerial Conference will give a boost to this new strategy, which will take advantage of the new legal basis provided by the Lisbon Treaty and the new policy guidelines included in the Stockholm Programme".
European societies are facing a demographic challenge that will remain far beyond the current recession. Migrants' contribution to the European economy is crucial. Following the Commission's recent Communication 'EUROPE 2020: a strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth', the European Council, at its meeting of 26 March 2010, agreed on several headline targets, including the aim "to bring to 75% the employment rate for women and men aged 20-64, including through the greater participation of youth, older workers and low skilled workers and the better integration of legal migrants".
Report on integration
On the occasion of this 4th Ministerial Conference, the Commission's services have prepared a report on 'The consolidation of the EU framework on integration'. It describes the completion of the EU framework on integration as foreseen in the 2005 Common Agenda. Following the Council Conclusions agreed after the 3rd Ministerial Conference of 2008, this report focuses on four main priorities: promoting European values; building and gathering general public and migrants perceptions; modules and indicators for integration policy governance; and promoting a cross-cutting integration policy.
The 'Handbook on Integration'
Commissioner Malmström will present today in Spain the third edition of the 'Handbook on Integration for policy-makers and practitioners'. This edition is the culmination of a process that has involved almost 600 experts, from governments and civil society organisations, for more than 18 months. The result is a vast range of concrete examples that complete the previous two editions and a total of 7 years of work.
The third edition covers the role of mass media in integration, the importance of awareness-raising and migrant empowerment, dialogue platforms, acquisition of nationality and practice of active citizenship, immigrant youth, education and the labour market. Previous editions dealt with introduction programmes, civic participation, indicators, mainstreaming, urban housing, economic integration and integration governance.
A new legal and policy context
The Lisbon Treaty provides for a new legal basis for integration. It states that "the European Parliament and the Council, acting in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure, may establish measures to provide incentives and support for the action of Member States with a view to promoting the integration of third-country nationals residing legally in their territories, excluding any harmonisation of the laws and regulations of the Member States" (Article 79.4 TFEU).
The Stockholm Programme, the EU multiannual strategy for an area of freedom, security and justice adopted in December 2009 by the European Council, states that "the successful integration of legally resident third-country nationals remains the key to maximising the benefits of immigration. European cooperation can contribute to more effective integration policies in Member States by providing incentives and support for the action of Member States. The objective of granting comparable rights, responsibilities, and opportunities for all is at the core of European cooperation in integration, taking into account the necessity of balancing migrants’ rights and duties" (Section 6.1.5).
The high level political debate on integration in the EU context started with the Groningen Ministerial Conference of 2004, where the Common Basic Principles for immigrant integration policy were discussed. In 2005, in its Communication 'A Common Agenda for Integration: Framework for the Integration of third-country nationals in the EU', the Commission proposed that Ministers in charge of integration, in close cooperation with the Commission, should hold once a year a political debate on the integration of third-country nationals in the EU and assess the need for further action. The 2nd Ministerial Conference on Integration took place in May 2007 in Potsdam and the 3rd Ministerial Conference was convened in Vichy in November 2008.
The completed 2005 Common Agenda
In the 2005 Common Agenda for Integration, the Commission proposed a set of concrete measures and mechanisms to put the Common Basic Principles into practice:
The National Contact Points on Integration, a network of governmental experts in charge of integration policy coordinated by the Commission, created in 2003 in order to strengthen co-ordination of national and EU policies
The European Web Site on Integration at www.integration.eu since 2009
The European Integration Forum (two meetings were held in April and November 2009, respectively; the next meeting will take place on 24-25 June 2010)
The European Fund for the Integration of Third-country Nationals (€825 M for 2007-2013)
Against this background, a new strategy has to be developed taking into account the Lisbon Treaty, the Stockholm Programme and the completion of the 2005 Common Agenda for Integration.