Europe: EP votes resolution on refugee integration
Allowing refugees and asylum seekers to work in their host countries not only helps to restore their human dignity, but also reduces strain on public budgets by turning them into taxpayers, says the non-binding resolution social inclusion and integration into the labour market - 2015/2321(INI) -, voted on 5 July 2016 by the European Parliament. The text, drafted by Social Democrat MEP Brando Benifei, notes that procedures for granting asylum and labour market conditions differ markedly across the EU, and that refugees have a wide variety of ages, education, skills and abilities to work. The non-binding resolution was subject to an opinion by the Parliament's Culture and Education committee as well as a debate in the full plenary.
Key conclusions are:
- Slow and bureaucratic asylum procedures may hinder access to education and training, employment guidance, labour market and EU and national programmes, thus increasing risks of precariousness
- The length of residence permit granted (especially for subsidiary protection) acts as a barrier to labour market integration if it is only of relatively short duration
- Special labour markets for refugees or jobs below the national minimum wage are rejected as an idea
- The gender dimension must be recognised from the very start and throughout the integration process
- Language training systems must be established, tailor-made to specific needs and closely linked to vocational training
- Equal access and targeted support for asylum-seekers to housing, healthcare, education, social protection, labour market and the assessment of qualification and skills is both inclusive and cost-effective based on the crucial concept of early and continuous intervention. For these reasons, the Reception Conditions Directive should be revised and EC monitoring of laws and practice intensified
- The European Commission should facilitate the assessment and recognition of qualifications and skills through a DG Employment Task Force, multilingual information through NARIC, guidelines and recommendations
- The European Commission should step up its efforts against discrimination, xenophobia and racism through awareness-raising, support to stakeholders and public communication efforts
- The Commission's decision is welcomed to take exceptional refugee expenditures into account within the Stability and Growth Pact, as integration spending is likely to have positive effects on national GDPs in the short-term, while medium- or long-term impacts on public finances will depend on the effectiveness of immigrant and social inclusion measures
- EU funds should give importance to refugee integration, become more accessible and complementary, better use the partnership principle at Member State level, and increase at national level and EU level, especially as AMIF has used up all its resources and the Multi-annual Financial Framework (MFF) will be revised
A wide range of recommendations on culture, education and sport were introduced on the initiative of the European Parliament's Culture and Education committee, including to open 'educational corridors' to host refugee students by sponsoring universities, to guarantee 4% of the EU's humanitarian aid budget to be spent on education and to improve the use of EU funds.