Europe: Inside the 4th meeting of the European Migration Forum
The 4th meeting of the European Migration Forum took place on 6-7 March 2018. The event brought together over 200 representatives of NGOs, local and regional authorities, national governments, the European Commission and the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC). Debates and keynotes focused on the challenges and opportunities of integrating migrants into national labour markets in the European Union.
The EU Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos highlighted the urgency of focusing on the integration of those who have obtained a legal right to reside in the EU. He added that effectively integrating them is also beneficial for Europe's aging societies and labour shortages.
Georges Dassis, President of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) put emphasis on equal treatment, stating that immigrants should be considered as full citizens and benefit from the same rights and obligations as EU nationals. He urged civil society organisations to work toward reaching equality.
José Antonio Moreno Díaz, member of the EESC's Permanent Study Group on Immigration and Integration, said that integration into the labour market is a key part of integration. He stressed the need to change the narrative on migration, moving away from migrants being depicted as a burden on societies towards the reporting the need for migration in any modern society.
Participative workshops were organised on a wide range of issues and allowed attendees to carry out open debates on topics as varied as fostering a multi-stakeholder approach to labour market integration, improving cooperation at the local level, recognising and developing skills, tackling discrimination and promoting diversity at the workplace, etc.
Rapporteurs summarised the main findings of these workshops which were further debated by Menno Bart, representative of The Adecco Group, Lazar Lazarov, Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Policy, representatives of the Bulgarian Presidency and Simon Mordue, Deputy Director-General for Migration and Home Affairs.
The Forum also included sessions on the access to EU funding, open sessions on issues of interest raised at the forum, as well as testimonies of two migrants who shared their experiences integrating into the EU labour markets. Eugenio Ambrosi, Regional Director for the European Economic Area, the EU and NATO at the International Organization for Migration, noted that more time needs to be spent talking with and listening to migrants.