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Making integration a win-win situation - 25/07/2011

Cartoon showing one large speech bubble containing words in different languages © EU

EU citizens and migrants alike agree that integration requires language skills, employment, respect for the local culture and an unambiguous legal status.

Migrants to the EU bring with them not only diversity, but also the potential to make a valuable contribution to economic growth and stability.

As Europe's population ages and birth rates remain low, migrants can help sustain the EU economy and finance national welfare systems. But not unless they are fully integrated into their host countries.

A new package of measures proposed by the Commission would facilitate integration through language learning, easier access to employment, education and training, plus efforts to fight discrimination.

Integration policies are the responsibility of national governments. But the EU can offer support and incentives - through funding, policy coordination and facilitating the exchange of best practices. The new measures would encourage action at local level, including cooperation between local authorities, employers, migrant organisations, service providers and local residents.

Each EU country, region or city would choose the measures most appropriate for its circumstances, and EU-wide indicators would monitor the results.

Progress should not be difficult, given the results from a recent Eurobarometer survey on migrant integration, which show that both EU citizens and migrants largely agree on the factors that help integration.

Conducted in March and April 2011, the survey found agreement that more effort is needed from all sides - from governments, migrants themselves and the general public.

EU citizens and migrants alike have similar views on the factors influencing integration. Speaking the language of the host nation, being able to work, respecting the local culture and enjoying an unambiguous legal status were the top four factors - with language being the most important for both groups.

Both also agreed on the importance of interaction at work and in schools, and on the detrimental impact of segregation between neighbourhoods.

The EU is home to 20.1 million migrants from non-EU countries, around 4% of the population.

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