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07 October 2019

European Commission nominees Schinas and Johansson address integration in their hearings

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The European Commission’s Vice President-Designate Margaritis Schinas and Commissioner-Designate Ylva Johansson have now addressed committees of the European Parliament in the hearings for their prospective roles. Johansson has been nominated to serve as the Commissioner in charge of the Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs, while Schinas has been nominated to coordinate a portfolio that includes migration, integration and social affairs.

Hearing for Commissioner-Designate Ylva Johansson

In her statements, Johansson, who is currently Sweden’s Minister of Employment, emphasised that, ‘Sweden received more refugees than any other Member State per capita’ in 2015, including one-third of all unaccompanied minors coming to Europe. Appointed by the Swedish prime minister to coordinate all government actions related to migration and integration in Sweden during that time, Johansson stated that she was ‘proud that Sweden could give shelter to so many refugees … and that many of them now are integrated in society and contribute to the economy’.

She also emphasised the importance of having a ‘gender perspective in all actions that we take’ as well as the best interests of the child, both of which she considered to be ‘preconditions for what we do and need to be present in all our policymaking’.

Hearing for Vice President-Designate Margaritis Schinas

As the nominated Vice President and Commissioner with coordinating responsibility for migrant and refugee integration, Schinas emphasised in his opening remarks that he would use his ‘cross-cutting portfolio ... to promote a comprehensive approach when it comes to inclusion and integration’.

He noted that a key task will be ensuring that the future European Social Fund Plus ‘fosters social inclusion, supports those most in need, and helps enhance labour mobility across the EU’. He also stated his intention to ‘build on the 2016 Action Plan on the Inclusion of Refugees and Migrants and additional funds in this area’.

In a written response to the European Parliament, he stressed the importance of ‘exploit[ing] the synergies’ between different funding instruments with respect to migrant and refugee integration, as well as the EU’s ‘key role in supporting Member States’ efforts’. He added in his response that ‘solutions need to be bottom up and not top down, which means supporting and working with local communities who know what works best in the area’.

In response to a question by a Member of the European Parliament regarding whether he has an ‘identity policy’, Schinas stated that he prefers to use the term ‘common sense of belonging’ rather than ‘identity’. In his view, ‘opening these doors of identity politics would not necessarily improve the societies of tomorrow, which have to be inclusive, have to be resilient, have to be with skills, have to be with cultural instruments, but have to be with a common sense of belonging—not with a certain culture of “us against them”’—a connotation that he attributed to the term ‘identity’.

What’s next

Based on the recommendations of the relevant committees of the European Parliament following the hearings, the Parliament’s Conference of Presidents will decide whether to declare the hearings process closed. When that happens, the Parliament will vote on the election of the new European Commission in a plenary session. However, as three candidates have been rejected by the Parliament’s committees, it is likely that the new Commission will not take their positions until 1 December 2019.

Watch the hearings and see the hearing transcripts and other documents

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Posted by
Monica Li
Content manager

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