Action plan on integration and inclusion 2021-2027 - Related Opinions
In this opinion, the EESC stresses that the EU needs to strike the right balance between effective and realistic migration management that is humane and sustainable, while ensuring security and control of its external borders. It must send a clear message that migration can be better managed collectively. It notes that the proposals accompanying the PMA are important but insufficient for the development of the common European framework for migration management, which would be both effective and in line with the EU's values and objectives.
The EESC describes integration as a dynamic process, involving both migrants and the receiving society. It believes that migration challenges should be addressed in a holistic manner. Gender equality should become one of the key pillars in integration. Migrant families and parents should be involved in the local and school community as from the early stages of reception. On language training, the EESC believes that this should foresee cultural exploration and involvement in the community and society, as well as guidance and information to migrants on the advantages and the aims of language training. In view of the disparities that exist in Member States with regard to language teaching, the EESC calls for common EU guidelines for language training, which can help ensure a unified and holistic approach.
In this own-initiative opinion, the EESC calls on the European Union to develop a coherent and uniform approach to protecting unaccompanied foreign minors in Europe. It urges the European Commission to draw up a Directive on the protection of unaccompanied minors that serves the best interests of the child. The principle of "the best interests of the child" should take precedence over all other national and international law. The EESC calls on the Member States to evaluate minority based on a body of evidence, consisting principally of the declarations by the person in question, civil status documents presented and interviews with the person. Given that bone tests are not really reliable, the EESC calls for them to simply be stopped.
The EESC notes that the Global Compact is a non-binding instrument that does not create new obligations for EU Member States and its content is fully in line with the principles and values of the European Union, most notably Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union, which includes – as its main values – respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities. The EESC therefore regrets the fact that the Compact has not been approved by all Member States and recommends that the EU clarify and build on the Compact's objectives using appropriate mechanisms.
The EESC welcomes the Commission's efforts to speed up returns, but regrets that the recast was not supported by an impact assessment and/or public consultation on the existing Directive 2008/115/EC.
The EESC believes that an effective returns policy should be part of a truly common policy and legislation for legal migration and for asylum, which is currently missing, giving the impression that the EU adopts a purely security and policing-focused vision of migration as a criminal matter. Such a comprehensive common EU migration policy would also be the best answer to the extreme right-wing and nationalist discourse on migration.
The EESC welcomes the Commission's efforts to making the return procedure quicker and more efficient. Even so, consideration should be given to how realistic the proposed time-scales are and an assessment made of the obstacles that could frustrate this intention.
The EESC points out that a non-immigration scenario in Europe would mean among other things that Member States' economies would suffer substantially; demographic challenges would be aggravated; pension systems might become unsustainable; racism and xenophobia would flourish even more than at present. Non-integration bears economic, socio-cultural and political risks and costs. Hence, investment in migrant integration is the best insurance policy against potential future costs, problems and tensions.
EU Member States face the arrival of many refugees, who need to be integrated into the host societies once their protected status is granted. The EESC is convinced that integration is a necessity for the preservation of social cohesion. This exploratory opinion, drawn up at the request of the Dutch Presidency of the EU, clarifies the meaning of "integration" and looks at comparability with previous refugee movements, successful integration measures applied in the various EU member states, and the financing of integration measures for refugees, resulting in a set of best practices and recommendations.
Delivering on the European Agenda on Migration from May, the European Commission has put forward a comprehensive package of proposals which should help address the refugee crisis by alleviating pressure from the most affected Member States. One of the measures announced was a Permanent Relocation Mechanism for all Member States.
The refugee crisis in the EU has reached the point at which the founding principles of human rights protection and democracy are being called into question. Despite the difficulties, EESC strongly believes that these principles must be upheld and properly implemented. The crisis relocation mechanism is a concrete example of cooperation based on solidarity and responsibility. However, the EESC wishes to have this relocation mechanism and other similar initiatives included as part of a general strategy in order to ensure coherence and efficiency.
On 13 May, the European Commission presented a European Agenda on Migration outlining the immediate measures that will be taken in order to respond to the crisis situation in the Mediterranean as well as the steps to be taken in the coming years to better manage migration in all its aspects. The EESC welcomes the Commission's "European Agenda on Migration", which it believes symbolises a new-found understanding of the need to address migration at a European level, and encourages the Member States to collectively support the implementation of this Agenda.