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Portugal among top ten countries for migrant integration policy

Portugal among top ten countries for migrant integration policy

28/10/2020

Portugal is in the top ten countries for migrant integration policy, according to the Migrant Integration Policy Index (MIPEX) 2020, an assessment of the integration policies of 52 states. The assessment highlights the fight against discrimination and efforts towards family reunification as particular strengths for Portugal.

According to the MIPEX 2020, presented on October 28 at the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon, Portugal has been continuously improving its integration policies in recent years. This was found to be especially true as far as education is concerned.

According to the report, 'Portuguese integration policies have improved slightly in all dimensions of equality of rights, opportunities and security for immigrants'.

Portugal appears in the 'top ten' alongside the Nordic states and countries that are more traditionally destinations of choice for migrants, far ahead of other 'new' destination countries such as Italy and Spain.

The report states that 'compared with all other developed countries, Portugal's integration policies in 2019 were above average in all policy areas, except in access to health'. Notable findings included the following:

  • Concerning tackling the problem of discrimination Portugal attained the highest possible score of 100 points, praised for its strong policies and enforcement mechanisms that are 'slowly raising levels of public awareness';
  • Concerning citizenship - of both new migrants and descendants of Portuguese citizens - Portugal scored 86 points, which was an increase of 13 on its score from 2015.
  • As far as family reunification is concerned Portugal scored 87 points and is deemed to have one of the most favourable policies for reunification worldwide, alongside Canada and Brazil.

According to MIPEX, this research matters because the way in which governments treat migrants strongly influences the way migrants and the rest of society interact and think about each other.

The authors of the report said that 'the guarantee of equal rights, opportunities and security [for migrants] encourages the public to see integration as an opportunity and to treat immigrants as equals, neighbours and potential citizens'. As a result of such inclusive policies in Portugal, then, immigrants and the public are more likely to interact and see each other as equals.

MIPEX is the work of Migration Policy Group (MPG), in partnership with the Centre for International Relations in Barcelona. It is co-financed by the European Commission. The Portuguese research team comes from the Institute of Geography and Spatial Planning of the University of Lisbon.

Luxembourg: Consultation pour une relance de l'intégration

Luxembourg: Consultation pour une relance de l'intégration

27/10/2020

La Ministre de la Famille et de l'Intégration vient de lancer une consultation auprès de la société civile et les partenaires sociaux, première étape en vue d'une refonte de la loi d'intégration qui date de 2008.

Des contributions pourront être transmises au département de l'Intégration du Ministère de la Famille jusqu'au 26 novembre 2020.

En savoir plus ici.

Voici la lettre de la ministre.

Slovakia: Migrants not informed sufficiently of new COVID-19 measures

Slovakia: Migrants not informed sufficiently of new COVID-19 measures

24/10/2020

The Slovak government declared a state of emergency from 1 October 2020 in reaction to a sharp rise in confirmed coronavirus cases in the country. As of 24 October a new series of temporary measures has now been put in place. These include quarantine for the whole country between October 24 and November 1, with exceptions for COVID-19 testing, shopping for everyday food items, going to work or taking children to school. All schools are officially closed, admitting only pre-schoolers and the youngest pupils.

A further measure is the introduction of nationwide testing, which will take place from 31 October to 1 November 2020. There will be 5000 locations for testing spread across Slovakia. Although testing will be voluntary, non-participation will incur a penalty of ten days of quarantine, during which social benefits will not be available (only annual or unpaid leave provided at the employer's discretion will be possible). Violation of the rules, e.g. of the quarantine, may lead to a financial penalty of up to 1 659 EUR.

A second round of testing will take place from 7 to 8 November 2020.

Migrants in Slovakia are allowed to participate in the testing, regardless of the type of residence or visitor permit they hold, once they present themselves with valid a valid form of identification (e.g. a passport or national ID).

A lack of information targeted at migrants specifically has been the subject of criticism. Important information on nationwide testing, which although being 'voluntary' does bring penalties, was initially communicated only in the Slovak language and only through Slovak media channels and newspapers. None of the official governmental institutions attempted to approach migrant communities with this essential new information.

As a result, leading non-governmental organisations in field of migrant integration - such as IOM Slovakia, Human Rights League and Mareena - as well as English media outlets such as the Slovak Spectator have been very vocal in calling for better COVID-19 information for migrants.

Find further information on new measures in Slovakia here.

Read more about the lack of essential COVID-19 communication to migrants here.

Public consultation on Cyprus' migrant integration plan

Public consultation on Cyprus' migrant integration plan

22/10/2020

The first draft of Cyprus' National Plan for the Integration of Migrants has been released, and a public consultation held to listen to views and amendment suggestions from citizens, experts and stakeholders.

In the next stage of this consultation process, the team in charge of the plan's development will be hosting a series of online meetings to present it and gather feedback.

The plan, built around eight priority axes and consisting of a series of proposed actions to support migrants with integration in Cyprus, is available online. Users are able to log in and submit their comments for each axis and related actions.

The National Plan for the Integration of Migrants is co-financed by the European Union, the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund and the Republic of Cyprus on behalf of the Ministry of Interior.

Read more about the plan and related activities here.

UK: Nominations now open for the 2021 Community Integration Awards

UK: Nominations now open for the 2021 Community Integration Awards

20/10/2020

The aim of the 2021 Community Integration Awards in the United Kingdom is to recognise the inspirational ways in which migrant, refugee and ‘settled’ communities are coming together to support each other during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Do you know a project or initiative in your area which has strengthened integration and brought different parts of the community together, including migrants and refugees, to respond to COVID-19? If so, nominate them to receive £1 000, the chance to make a short promotional film about their work and a bespoke package of support to take their work to new heights.

Awards will be split into three categories: 

  1. Connecting Communities;
  2. Safety For All;
  3. Equality, Access & Rights.

To find out more about the categories and criteria, or to make a nomination, click here.

The deadline for nominations is 30 November 2020.

Czech Republic: Call for applications open to local authorities

Czech Republic: Call for applications open to local authorities

19/10/2020

The Czech Ministry of Interior announced a call for applications targeted to support local authorities willing to deal with integration issues. Candidates should submit proposals addressing the following issues:

• provision of Czech language courses;
• integration support in elementary schools and nurseries;
• integration activities and events;
• supporting interpreters and assistant teachers;
• conducting migration analyses on a local level;
• carrying out socio-cultural seminars;
• social work;
• providing training on integration to public administration clerks;
• production of information materials for foreigners and broad public

The deadline for applications is 15 January 2021; see all the additional details about the call here

Portugal saw 40% rise in applications for asylum in 2019

Portugal saw 40% rise in applications for asylum in 2019

19/10/2020

According to data from the International Migration Outlook 2020 - released this month by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) - the number of asylum seekers in Portugal increased by 39.9% in 2019, reaching a total of approximately 1 700.

Countries of origin with the highest number of people applying for asylum in Portugal were Angola, with 300 applicants, and The Gambia and Guinea-Bissau with 200 applicants each.

The report also shows that in 2018, the number of new migrants arriving on a long-term or permanent basis grew by 61.6% in comparison with 2017. This amounted to 64 000 individuals, comprised as follows:

  • 26% migrants with free movement;
  • 32.8% family members of people already living in Portugal;
  • 31.2% labour migrants;
  • 1% migrants in need of humanitarian support.

Approximately 8400 permits were issued to international students and 300 to temporary and international seasonal migrant workers (excluding intra-European Union migration).

Brazil, Italy and France were the three main nationalities of newcomers in 2018. Among the 15 main countries of origin, Brazil recorded the largest increase (17 thousand) and Romania the largest reduction (minus 300) in flows to Portugal comparatively to the previous year.

The report highlights the main steps taken by Portugal to facilitate migrant integration:

  • An amendment to the Portuguese Immigration Law, creating a pathway for regularisation for undocumented migrants with jobs who have been making Social Security contributions for at least one year;
  • An amendment to the Portuguese Nationality Law, which extends access to Portuguese citizenship to children born to foreign immigrant parents, if at least one parent has been legally residing in Portugal for the two years prior to the birth, as opposed to the previously stipulated five years;
  • The approval of a National Plan for the Implementation of the Global Compact for Migration, becoming one of the first countries in the world to do so.
  • The country joined the Voluntary Resettlement Program coordinated by UNHCR and the European Commission, reaching 308 people by August 2019;
  • The services of the High Commission for Migration (ACM) continue to run, with in-person assistance and further support by telephone (eg. telephone translation service);
  • Exceptional measures were taken to ensure that all migrants with pending immigration or asylum cases with the Immigration and Borders Office (SEF) could fully access the National Health Service during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Find further information online here.

Access the full OECD report here.

Czech Republic: Foreign workers can now change jobs more quickly

Czech Republic: Foreign workers can now change jobs more quickly

19/10/2020

On Friday 16 October the Czech government held an extraordinary meeting to discuss new economic measures in the face of the COVID-19 crisis. It was decided that foreign workers in the Czech Republic will be temporarily allowed to change their place of work without undergoing the usual lengthy processes required to do so, if the new employer is involved in the COVID-19 response effort. 

While the country remains in a state of emergency, migrant workers in possession of an 'employee' or 'blue' card will no longer be required to meet the conditions stipulated by law for a change of employment, such as a six-month period of previous employment in the Czech Republic. It will also be sufficient to notify the Ministry of the Interior of any change in employment up until the first day of the new employment.

Find more information on these new regulations on the Ministry of the Interior's website.

Integrationsgipfel: Corona-Krise wirkt sich negativ auf Integration aus

Integrationsgipfel: Corona-Krise wirkt sich negativ auf Integration aus

19/10/2020

Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel betonte beim 12. Integrationsgipfel der Bundesregierung, dass die Pandemie Menschen mit Migrationshintergrund in Deutschland besonders hart treffe und die Integration auch in dieser Zeit nicht außer Acht gelassen werden dürfe. Sie erläuterte, dass beispielsweise viele für die Integration wichtige Bildungs- und Beratungsangebote gestrichen wurden oder nur noch eingeschränkt stattfinden, so dass das Ankommen in der Bundesrepublik deutlich erschwert wird.

Die Integrationsbeauftragte der Bundesregierung, Annette Widmann-Mauz, erklärte, dass auch die Integrationskurse als das "Herzstück der Integrationsmaßnahmen" gerade zu Beginn der Pandemie komplett heruntergefahren wurden. Sie forderte im Zuge der sukzessiven Wiederaufnahme vieler Kurse einen Ausbau der digitalen Angebote.

Die Bundeskanzlerin sagte: "So aufmerksam wie wir sein müssen, um Gesundheit und das Leben unserer Mitmenschen zu schützen, so aufmerksam müssen wir eben zugleich sein, dass auch der Zusammenhalt in dieser schwierigen Zeit stark bleibt", so Merkel. Die Phase unmittelbar nach der Ankunft sei für die Integration von entscheidender Bedeutung, erklärte sie.

Merkel wies überdies darauf hin, dass sich die negativen wirtschaftlichen Entwicklungen momentan besonders die Branchen betreffen, in denen viele Menschen mit Migrationshintergrund arbeiten, die nun vermehrt Gefahr laufen, ihren Arbeitsplatz zu verlieren.

Widmann-Mauz unterstrich, dass in der momentanen Krise viele Menschen mit Migrationsgeschichte "das Land mit am Laufen" halten. "Auch das ist Integration, und das müssen wir stärken", so die Integrationsbeauftragte.

Im Rahmen des Integrationsgipfels, der seit dem Jahr 2006 abgehalten wird, kommen Migrantenorganisationen, Religionsgemeinschaften sowie Vertreter aus Wirtschaft, Politik und Sport im Kanzleramt zusammen, um über Integrationspolitik zu diskutieren.

Englischsprachige Informationen…

Bulgaria: COVID-19 funding opportunity – the crisis as an opportunity

Bulgaria: COVID-19 funding opportunity – the crisis as an opportunity

19/10/2020

The Sofia Municipality announced a new funding programme, Crisis as an opportunity. The scheme will support civil society organisations, social enterprises, and small businesses in becoming more adaptable and sustainable in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The crisis caused by the pandemic has tested the way organisations operate, and highlighted existing problems, as well as the need for entirely new services. It has led to the mobilisation of people, organisations and institutions, but also to the distancing of existing teams and communities.

As the crisis is expected to have lasting consequences, however, it may be viewed as an opportunity for enhancing the adaptability of organisations and businesses, the call notes. In particular, the pandemic has revealed the increased importance of digital assets, connectivity, and savvy digital skills.

The Crisis as an opportunity programme includes two areas:

  • Area 1: Digital adaptation and achieving sustainability of organisations, under which a project can receive up to 10 000 EUR and benefit from a mentorship scheme;
  • Area 2: Community development, under which a project can receive up to 5 000 EUR and benefit from a mentorship scheme;

The programme’s overall budget is 250 000 EUR. 

The deadline for applications is 16 November 2020. All details may be found here.