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German Chancellor honors foreigners

German Chancellor honors foreigners

09/10/2008

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday that she supports the complete integration of foreigners here in Germany.  During a ceremony at the chancellory,  Chancellor Merkel honored the achievements of the guest workers who came to this country starting in the 1950's.  Two hundred representatives of the first generation of guest workers were on hand at the ceremony as was the country's commissioner for integration and immigration issues, Maria Böhmer.

Source: Deutsche Welle (http://www.dw-world.de/dw/function/0,,12215_cid_3684805,00.html?maca=en-rss-en-all-1573-rdf)

Strengthening the EU's Comprehensive migration policy: new initiatives of the European Commission on the Global Approach to migration, on Integration and on Family Reunification of third-country nationals

Strengthening the EU's Comprehensive migration policy: new initiatives of the European Commission on the Global Approach to migration, on Integration and on Family Reunification of third-country nationals

08/10/2008

Today the Commission adopted new initiatives to reinforce the EU's comprehensive approach to migration. It includes a Communication on "Strengthening the global approach to migration: increasing coordination, coherence and synergies", a Report to the 2008 Ministerial Conference on Integration on "Strengthening actions and tools to meet integration challenges" and a Communication reporting on the application of Directive 2003/86 on the right to family reunification. The proposals presented today build on the principles suggested in the recent Communication on A Common Immigration Policy for Europe and provide the first building blocks for the actions thereof proposed, which should also be taken on board of the European Pact on Immigration and Asylum.

Vice-President Jacques Barrot, Commissioner responsible for Freedom, Security and Justice, stated that "Migration policy remains high on the European Unions' agenda. The Commission believes that a comprehensive migration policy that incorporates the interests of the Member States, partner countries and the migrants themselves is needed and feasible. On 16 October the European Council will adopt the European Pact on Immigration and Asylum. With the three documents presented today, the Commission already puts on the table concrete proposals for the follow-up and thorough implementation. We will make sure to govern migration in a coherent and coordinated way in even closer partnerships with third countries. We will nurture our tools for integration as it becomes an even more crucial aspect of legal migration. And we will ensure the acknowledged right to family reunification of third country nationals is guaranteed in accordance with the Directive from 2003."

The Communication on the Global Approach suggests to strengthen the means of reaching the Union's strategic objectives: to address all migration and asylum issues in a comprehensive and balanced manner, to fully integrate migration into the European Union's other external policies, and to manage the EU's external dimension of the migration policy through genuine partnership with third countries. It suggests both substantive and methodological improvements on how to facilitate legal migration and mobility, how to manage illegal migration, and how to ensure that migration can contribute to development. The way forward is to fine-tune the Global Approach to each region and country; to step up coordination among all stakeholders; to encourage the pooling of resources; and to enhance and upgrade the migration management capacities of both Member States and partner countries.

The Report to the 2008 Ministerial Conference on Integration, to be held under on 3/4 November in Vichy, comes in response to June 2007 Council Conclusions stressing the need to consider approaches to integration that involve society as a whole. The Report focuses on participation and citizenship; on measures targeting the host society; and on how integration policies may contribute to the prevention of social alienation. It also elaborates on new instruments such as common European modules for integration and common tools for evaluating integration policies. These instruments will contribute to further addressing the integration aspects highlighted by the European Pact on Immigration and Asylum.

The report on family reunification analyses national legislation implementing the Directive 2003/86/EC on the right of legally residing third-country nationals to be joined by their non-EU family members. Therefore this report does not deal with the situation of third-country nationals who are members of the family of a Union citizen regulated in the framework of free movement of EU citizens. It summarises Member States’ transposition of the Directive, identifies possible problems (visa facilitation, granting autonomous residence permits, taking into account the best interest of the child, legal redress and more favourable provisions for the family reunification of refugees, the income requirement and possible integration measures should be mentioned in particular) and gives recommendations on proper application. As a follow-up to this report, the Commission will examine all cases where application problems were identified in order to ensure that the provisions of the present Directive are correctly applied. Moreover it intends to launch soon a wider consultation – in the form of a Green Paper – on the future of the family reunification regime.

Source: EU Rapid Press Release (link)

Strengthening the EU's Comprehensive migration policy: new initiatives of the European Commission on the Global Approach to migration, on Integration and on Family Reunification of third-country nationals

Strengthening the EU's Comprehensive migration policy: new initiatives of the European Commission on the Global Approach to migration, on Integration and on Family Reunification of third-country nationals

08/10/2008

Today the Commission adopted new initiatives to reinforce the EU's comprehensive approach to migration. It includes a Communication on "Strengthening the global approach to migration: increasing coordination, coherence and synergies", a Report to the 2008 Ministerial Conference on Integration on "Strengthening actions and tools to meet integration challenges" and a Communication reporting on the application of Directive 2003/86 on the right to family reunification. The proposals presented today build on the principles suggested in the recent Communication on A Common Immigration Policy for Europe and provide the first building blocks for the actions thereof proposed, which should also be taken on board of the European Pact on Immigration and Asylum.

Vice-President Jacques Barrot, Commissioner responsible for Freedom, Security and Justice, stated that "Migration policy remains high on the European Unions' agenda. The Commission believes that a comprehensive migration policy that incorporates the interests of the Member States, partner countries and the migrants themselves is needed and feasible. On 16 October the European Council will adopt the European Pact on Immigration and Asylum. With the three documents presented today, the Commission already puts on the table concrete proposals for the follow-up and thorough implementation. We will make sure to govern migration in a coherent and coordinated way in even closer partnerships with third countries. We will nurture our tools for integration as it becomes an even more crucial aspect of legal migration. And we will ensure the acknowledged right to family reunification of third country nationals is guaranteed in accordance with the Directive from 2003."

The Communication on the Global Approach suggests to strengthen the means of reaching the Union's strategic objectives: to address all migration and asylum issues in a comprehensive and balanced manner, to fully integrate migration into the European Union's other external policies, and to manage the EU's external dimension of the migration policy through genuine partnership with third countries. It suggests both substantive and methodological improvements on how to facilitate legal migration and mobility, how to manage illegal migration, and how to ensure that migration can contribute to development. The way forward is to fine-tune the Global Approach to each region and country; to step up coordination among all stakeholders; to encourage the pooling of resources; and to enhance and upgrade the migration management capacities of both Member States and partner countries.

The Report to the 2008 Ministerial Conference on Integration, to be held under on 3/4 November in Vichy, comes in response to June 2007 Council Conclusions stressing the need to consider approaches to integration that involve society as a whole. The Report focuses on participation and citizenship; on measures targeting the host society; and on how integration policies may contribute to the prevention of social alienation. It also elaborates on new instruments such as common European modules for integration and common tools for evaluating integration policies. These instruments will contribute to further addressing the integration aspects highlighted by the European Pact on Immigration and Asylum.

The report on family reunification analyses national legislation implementing the Directive 2003/86/EC on the right of legally residing third-country nationals to be joined by their non-EU family members. Therefore this report does not deal with the situation of third-country nationals who are members of the family of a Union citizen regulated in the framework of free movement of EU citizens. It summarises Member States’ transposition of the Directive, identifies possible problems (visa facilitation, granting autonomous residence permits, taking into account the best interest of the child, legal redress and more favourable provisions for the family reunification of refugees, the income requirement and possible integration measures should be mentioned in particular) and gives recommendations on proper application. As a follow-up to this report, the Commission will examine all cases where application problems were identified in order to ensure that the provisions of the present Directive are correctly applied. Moreover it intends to launch soon a wider consultation – in the form of a Green Paper – on the future of the family reunification regime.

Source: EU Rapid Press Release (link)

Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council: main results

Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council: main results

03/10/2008

At the EPSSCO Council held in Luxembourg on 2 October 2008, Xavier Bertrand, the French Minister for Labour, Labour Relations, the Family and Solidarity and chairperson of the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council, underlined that 2008 should be the year to revive Europe’s social policy.

The main items on the agenda for this Council meeting were a policy debate on the proposal for a Council directive on the implementation of the principle of equal treatment irrespective of religion or convictions, disability, age or sexual orientation, and a progress report on the work aimed at overhauling the European Works Council Directive. This Council meeting was also an opportunity to exchange views on the interim report of the European mission for flexicurity, co-chaired by Vladimir Spidla, the Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunity, and Gérard Larcher, the President of the French Senate.

Firstly, Xavier Bertrand highlighted the problems currently facing European economies. Now more than ever, all Member States have a responsibility to place social cohesion, the protection of citizens, solidarity and the modernisation of the job market, at the heart of their priorities.

He also recalled that, in addition to preparations for the 2009 European elections, advances must be made on a number of other fundamental issues.

At the end of the Council, the Presidency reiterated the following aims:

  • With regard to the Directive on the implementation of the principle of equal treatment, Xavier Bertrand recalled that this text, the legal basis of which was laid down in the Treaty of Amsterdam, represents a chance for Europe to make the specific guarantees long-awaited by citizens, and to make Europe the most accessible continent for all. He emphasised the constructive debates on this proposal which had taken place within the Council and the determination of the French Presidency to achieve the best text as soon as possible, within a spirit of dialogue and listening by all the partners concerned.
  • On the overhaul of the European Works Council Directive, Xavier Bertrand saluted the progress achieved on this text since the start of the summer, notably with the support of European social partners. He specified that the text put forward by the Commission and the proposals jointly presented by the European social partners had provided the Council with a working basis, and should now be used for ongoing discussions within the Council and with the European Parliament. He highlighted that the work accomplished so far would make a rapid adoption of the text possible by the end of the year.
  • Xavier Bertrand felt it important to readdress the work of the European mission for flexicurity, particularly on its contributions in terms of pedagogy and methods for enabling the actors of social reform in the different Member States to take ownership of the common flexicurity principles. He underlined that the participation of the European social partners in the mission was a decisive asset to ensuring a positive outcome, and that the mission’s method could be deployed in the context of the adoption of other common principles in future years, with regard to intergenerational solidarity and active social inclusion for example.
  • Lastly, the Presidency welcomed the Council’s unanimous adoption of a decision to make 2010 the European Year for Combating Poverty, a decision that Xavier Bertrand emphasised was not just a question of principle but should be used to advance debate and the positions of the Member States in this area.
    Xavier Bertrand also recalled that the work of the Presidency would continue until the end of the second half of 2008, but that beyond that, within the framework of the trio it formed with the Czech and Swedish Presidencies, the work would be oriented towards a more protective and more practical Europe, a source of progress and achievement for everyone.

The next EPSSCO Council will be held on 15 December next in Brussels.

Source: ue2008.fr

Conclusions of the Paris Equality Summit

Conclusions of the Paris Equality Summit

02/10/2008

The second Equality Summit, organised jointly by the French Presidency and the European Commission, was opened on Monday 29 September by Xavier Bertrand, the French Minister for Labour, Labour Relations, the Family and Solidarity, in his role as president of the Employment, Social Affairs, Health and Consumer Protection Council (EPSSCO), and Vladimír Špidla, the European Commissioner for Employment. They were joined by Dzamila Stehlikova, the Czech Minister for Human Rights, Ethnic Minorities and Equality, and Claire Roumet, the Vice-Presidentof the Social Platform, representing the European NGOs working in the social sector, and by Louis Schweitzer, the President of the French High Authority to Fight Against Discrimination and For Equality (HALDE).

This summit was held in the context of the extension of the European Year of Equal Opportunities for All, organised in 2007, which was the occasion to give a new boost to the fight against discrimination and the promotion of equality. It also built on the momentum generated by the German, Portuguese and Slovenian Presidencies in making Europeans more aware of their right to equal treatment and of the benefits of diversity.

These two days of discussions and debates allowed some points of consensus to be identified, which are included in the summit conclusions (FR).

For their part, Xavier Bertrand and Vladimír Špidla emphasised the role that the European Union could play to advance the fight against discrimination in the Member States, pointing out the support of the treaties and Community directives in this field and underlining the value of this legislation. They also emphasised the capacity of national and European actors – be they associations and networks, equality bodies, local actors, social partners, or even the media – to publicise rights and policies with regard to combating discrimination and changing mentalities, thus ensuring the effective application of the principle of equal treatment in the daily life of Europe’s citizens.

The debates also provided an opportunity to discuss the proposed directive, presented on 2 July 2008 by the European Commission, on the implementation of the principle of equal treatment irrespective of religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation. Xavier Bertrand and Vladimír Špidla emphasised that the adoption of this proposed directive would allow the continuation of the work begun ten years ago, i.e. since the introduction in the Community treaties in 1998 of a legal basis allowing the Member States, after consulting the European Parliament, to take the measures necessary to fight discrimination. They noted that this new step would be a strong sign of the European Union’s commitment to the promotion of equality and the fight against discrimination. Xavier Bertrand also indicated that this proposed directive would be the subject of a policy debate at the next EPSSCO Council on 2 October in Luxembourg.

Xavier Bertrand and Vladimír Špidla called on the social partners to include the issue of discrimination in access to employment and in the workplace to the agenda for their discussions. After recalling the success in France, Germany and Belgium of the diversity charter launched on the initiative of enterprises, Xavier Bertrand and Vladimír Špidla asked European companies and their representatives to give a European dimension to this type of initiative.

Xavier Bertrand and Vladimír Špidla also expressed their hope that the results of all the work conducted during this summit would be taken on board in the debates of the next equality summit, which would be held under the Swedish Presidency in November 2009. They will remain particularly attentive to these problems in the context of the ongoing debates and discussions with regard to the reform of the social agenda, which should define Europe’s ambitions in the social sphere for the next ten or fifteen years. This issue would be at the heart of the conference on ‘Emerging social issues in a changing Europe’, which will be organised in Paris on 12 November next.

Paris Equality summit 

Conclusions_sommet_égalité_FR.pdf (pdf, 70 Kb)
Conclusions_of_the_equality_summit_EN.pdf (pdf, 82 Kb)

Source: ue2008.fr

Conclusions of the Paris Equality Summit

Conclusions of the Paris Equality Summit

02/10/2008

The second Equality Summit, organised jointly by the French Presidency and the European Commission, was opened on Monday 29 September by Xavier Bertrand, the French Minister for Labour, Labour Relations, the Family and Solidarity, in his role as president of the Employment, Social Affairs, Health and Consumer Protection Council (EPSSCO), and Vladimír Špidla, the European Commissioner for Employment. They were joined by Dzamila Stehlikova, the Czech Minister for Human Rights, Ethnic Minorities and Equality, and Claire Roumet, the Vice-Presidentof the Social Platform, representing the European NGOs working in the social sector, and by Louis Schweitzer, the President of the French High Authority to Fight Against Discrimination and For Equality (HALDE).

This summit was held in the context of the extension of the European Year of Equal Opportunities for All, organised in 2007, which was the occasion to give a new boost to the fight against discrimination and the promotion of equality. It also built on the momentum generated by the German, Portuguese and Slovenian Presidencies in making Europeans more aware of their right to equal treatment and of the benefits of diversity.

These two days of discussions and debates allowed some points of consensus to be identified, which are included in the summit conclusions (FR).

For their part, Xavier Bertrand and Vladimír Špidla emphasised the role that the European Union could play to advance the fight against discrimination in the Member States, pointing out the support of the treaties and Community directives in this field and underlining the value of this legislation. They also emphasised the capacity of national and European actors – be they associations and networks, equality bodies, local actors, social partners, or even the media – to publicise rights and policies with regard to combating discrimination and changing mentalities, thus ensuring the effective application of the principle of equal treatment in the daily life of Europe’s citizens.

The debates also provided an opportunity to discuss the proposed directive, presented on 2 July 2008 by the European Commission, on the implementation of the principle of equal treatment irrespective of religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation. Xavier Bertrand and Vladimír Špidla emphasised that the adoption of this proposed directive would allow the continuation of the work begun ten years ago, i.e. since the introduction in the Community treaties in 1998 of a legal basis allowing the Member States, after consulting the European Parliament, to take the measures necessary to fight discrimination. They noted that this new step would be a strong sign of the European Union’s commitment to the promotion of equality and the fight against discrimination. Xavier Bertrand also indicated that this proposed directive would be the subject of a policy debate at the next EPSSCO Council on 2 October in Luxembourg.

Xavier Bertrand and Vladimír Špidla called on the social partners to include the issue of discrimination in access to employment and in the workplace to the agenda for their discussions. After recalling the success in France, Germany and Belgium of the diversity charter launched on the initiative of enterprises, Xavier Bertrand and Vladimír Špidla asked European companies and their representatives to give a European dimension to this type of initiative.

Xavier Bertrand and Vladimír Špidla also expressed their hope that the results of all the work conducted during this summit would be taken on board in the debates of the next equality summit, which would be held under the Swedish Presidency in November 2009. They will remain particularly attentive to these problems in the context of the ongoing debates and discussions with regard to the reform of the social agenda, which should define Europe’s ambitions in the social sphere for the next ten or fifteen years. This issue would be at the heart of the conference on ‘Emerging social issues in a changing Europe’, which will be organised in Paris on 12 November next.

Paris Equality summit 

Conclusions_sommet_égalité_FR.pdf (pdf, 70 Kb)
Conclusions_of_the_equality_summit_EN.pdf (pdf, 82 Kb)

Source: ue2008.fr

Brussels: celebrating diversity with the Ambassadors of the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue

Brussels: celebrating diversity with the Ambassadors of the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue

10/09/2008

Arts, culture and diversity will be celebrated at the European Festival of Intercultural Dialogue organised by the European Commission in collaboration with the Flagey Arts Centre in Brussels on the 12-13 September 2008. Ján Figel’, European Commissioner for Education, Culture and Youth, will welcome Ambassadors of the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue and the general public to a two-day chain of concerts, workshops, film screenings and debates.

For more information, please visit http://www.interculturaldialogue2008.eu/405.0.html?&tx_ttnews[tt_news]=344&tx_ttnews[backPid]=333&cHash=1d8876fb23

Brussels: celebrating diversity with the Ambassadors of the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue

Brussels: celebrating diversity with the Ambassadors of the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue

10/09/2008

Arts, culture and diversity will be celebrated at the European Festival of Intercultural Dialogue organised by the European Commission in collaboration with the Flagey Arts Centre in Brussels on the 12-13 September 2008. Ján Figel’, European Commissioner for Education, Culture and Youth, will welcome Ambassadors of the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue and the general public to a two-day chain of concerts, workshops, film screenings and debates.

For more information, please visit http://www.interculturaldialogue2008.eu/405.0.html?&tx_ttnews[tt_news]=344&tx_ttnews[backPid]=333&cHash=1d8876fb23

Launch of EP's Sakharov Prize 2008: eight candidates presented

Launch of EP's Sakharov Prize 2008: eight candidates presented

10/09/2008

The eight nominations for this year's Sakharov Prize, the European Parliament's prize for defenders of human rights and democracy, were officially presented on Tuesday at a joint meeting of the Foreign Affairs Committee, the Development Committee and the Human Rights Subcommittee. The winner will be chosen in mid-October.

  • Ingrid Betancourt - Colombian-French politician and anti-corruption activist
  • Dalai Lama - Spiritual and political leader of the Tibetan people
  • European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) - Body campaigning against anti-Romani racism and abuse
  • Hu Jia - Chinese campaigner for civil rights, environmental protection and AIDS advocacy
  • Alexander Kozulin - Former presidential candidate in Belarus
  • Abbot Apollinaire Malu Malu - Chair of the Independent Electoral Commission of Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Mikhail Ivanovich Trepashkin - Russian lawyer and democracy campaigner
  • Morgan Tsvangirai - Zimbabwean opposition leader


More information is available on http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/expert/infopress_page/015-36576-254-09-37-902-20080908IPR36575-10-09-2008-2008-false/default_en.htm

‘Roma representatives must be welcomed into political decision-making’ says Council of Europe

‘Roma representatives must be welcomed into political decision-making’ says Council of Europe

10/09/2008

The Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights stated Roma populations are grossly under-represented in local and national assemblies and government administrations all over Europe. This is a serious shortcoming in our democracies, violates the right to political participation and perpetuates a situation of exclusion and marginalization of some ten to twelve million people.

More information on http://www.coe.int/t/commissioner/Viewpoints/default_en.asp.