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Social and labour market integration of refugees

Social and labour market integration of refugees
© Arthimedes / Shutterstock

Third-country nationals living in the EU face significant barriers when entering the labour market. They are also more at risk of poverty or social exclusion compared to natives, even when they are in employment. The socio-economic outcomes of refugees are even worse. They represent one of the most vulnerable groups of migrants on the labour market and society as a whole.

With asylum applications in the European Union having surpassed 1.2 million in 2015, the need for a more coordinated European response in all relevant policy areas has become immanent. Beyond meeting the immediate needs of refugees and asylum seekers, it is essential to promote their active integration in host societies. Research suggests that early and effective labour market participation is a key aspect of the integration process and determining for the long-term economic impact of the recent crisis.

Successful integration of refugees and asylum seekers will need quicker administrative procedures, swift access to basic pre-conditions (such as housing and healthcare) and to the labour market, facilitated recognition of foreign qualifications, as well as education and training. This will not happen without considerable efforts. While the integration of refugees and asylum seekers is a competence of Member States, the EU has an important role to play in providing support and incentives for Member States’ actions.

Policy Response

Ensuing from the European Agenda on Migration, the European Commission has put forward several proposals to address some of the integration challenges EU Member States are facing. Central element is the Action Plan on the Integration of Third Country Nationals, which was presented on 7 June 2016. DG Employment plays a key role in the aim to step-up actions to better support the actors working on the integration of refugees and asylum seekers, namely Member States’ governments, regional and local authorities, social partners, and civil society.

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In addition, the New Skills Agenda for Europe includes several initiatives that aim at assessing, profiling, recognizing and upgrading skills of refugees and third-country nationals.

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