Public hearing on integration outlines a path to inclusive societies

The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) recently addressed migrant integration at a public hearing with experts and social partners, highlighting the need for comprehensive approaches that go beyond economic participation. Key recommendations include investing in language training, supporting migrant women, and fostering a culture of tolerance to create more inclusive societies.

At the heart of the discussion was a resounding recognition that integration is not merely an economic imperative but a holistic undertaking encompassing social inclusion, cultural adaptation, and equitable access to rights and services. This comprehensive approach advocates for a shift beyond mere economic participation towards fostering a sense of belonging and meaningful engagement in broader society.

Data emerged as a cornerstone of the conversation, with experts emphasising the significance of harnessing evidence-based insights to identify gaps and inform policy decisions. The Migrant Integration Policy Index (MIPEX) was identified as a valuable tool for benchmarking progress, while the Whole-COMM project provided valuable insights into the challenges faced by small localities in integrating newcomers.

Local governments, as the frontline actors in integration efforts, garnered praise for their dedication and innovation in addressing the needs of newcomers. Their efforts, spanning language training and education programs to buddy schemes and childcare support, play a pivotal role in fostering social connections and facilitating integration.

Migrant women, particularly those arriving from non-EU countries, were identified as a group facing specific challenges in integrating into European societies. Their higher rates of unemployment, poverty, and experience of discrimination underscored the need for targeted measures to support their inclusion.

Recognition of migrant skills and qualifications also emerged as a critical area for improvement. Streamlining the process of assessing and validating foreign qualifications would not only enhance their employability prospects but also contribute to the overall economic vitality of European societies.

In response to the complex challenges and opportunities presented by migrant integration, this hearing brought forward a series of recommendations aimed at strengthening and streamlining integration efforts. These included:

  • Investing in language training and education for migrants. This investment would provide them with the necessary tools for economic participation and social engagement.
  • Providing more support services for migrant women. Tailored support in childcare, healthcare, and employment assistance would alleviate the specific challenges they face.
  • Streamlining the process for recognising migrant skills and qualifications. This would accelerate their integration into the labour market and maximise their contributions.
  • Collecting more data on migrant integration. This data would provide a deeper understanding of the integration process and inform evidence-based policymaking.
  • Promoting tolerance and understanding of migrants. Public awareness campaigns and education programs would foster a more welcoming and inclusive environment.

Inclusion of migrants into societies is an important topic for the EESC. Together with the European Commission, it will hold its eighth European Migration Forum (EMF) on December 4 and 5, under the theme "Migrants in Europe today - Specific needs, skills and communication for stronger inclusion." The forum, a platform for exchange between civil society, local and regional authorities and EU policy-makers, will focus on how to include the most vulnerable of migrants, as well as better equip newcomers in finding jobs and upskilling. By working collaboratively across governments, civil society, and businesses, Europe can create more inclusive and welcoming societies for all, ensuring a brighter future for newcomers and the broader European community.

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Public hearing on integration outlines a path to inclusive societies