Civil society shapes the European migration agenda: employment & integration are key priorities


06/04/2016, Brussels – Since the peak of the migration flow in 2015, the European Union has had to focus on operational and urgent responses to immediate challenges. However, a solid long-term migration policy needs to be developed to manage and accompany migration, as stated in the European Agenda on Migration. The second edition of the European Migration Forum (6-7 April), co-organised by the European Commission and the European Economic and Social Committee, is tasked to translate civil society’s feedback into a concrete migration policy for the European Union.


Entitled “a long-term approach to sustainable labour migration and successful integration“, the Forum is looking into the specific challenges faced by low and medium-skilled migrants, undeclared work and exploitation, access to the labour market, and the role of the local level and civil society in the integration process (more background). Concrete policy outputs, gathered in the Forum’s participatory and interactive workshops, will be presented on 7 April (watch live from 3 p.m. here).


These conclusions will feed into the European Commission’s forthcoming initiatives such as the “EU Action Plan on the integration of third-country nationals”.


Today’s European Migration Forum coincides with the presentation of the Commission’s communication on a reform of our common European asylum system and enhancing legal avenues.  Because while we cope with the immediacy of the refugee crisis now, we have to also think long term – but that means we have to start acting now. Making sure that those who have arrived and have a right to stay become a full part of our society is crucial. Ensuring swift and full integration is essential and we need different stakeholders – not least civil society – involved in this process. That is why today’s Forum is an important opportunity to feed into the Commission’s upcoming Action Plan on Integration” said Dimitris Avramopoulos, European Commissioner in charge of Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship.


It is high time for civil society efforts to be recognized and its view fully integrated in the EU policy-making on migration“, said Georges Dassis, President of the EESC. “I welcome the second edition of the European Migration Forum, and I call on to European decision-makers to listen and take on-board our recommendations: Europe needs to adopt long-term integration policies that encompass migrants’ and refugees’ skills recognition, education and training, and we need to help them integrate on the labour market. The cost of non-integration of the migrants and refugees would be disastrous for all sides.”


Regional and local authorities are central players in the area of migration. Our responsibility – as democratically elected decision-makers – is to ensure sustainable approaches to migration, whether the issue is managing emergencies or and planning integration and labour policies for the medium and long term,” said Markku Markkula, President of the European Committee of the Regions. “Our messages should be anchored on solid evidence, never ceding to populism. We need new sustainable formulas, including a circular-migration scheme based on skills relevant to given territory.”


It is important that EU leaders listen to civil society feedbacks on what is happening on the ground. The EESC has met more than 180 civil society organisations actively working with refugees and migrants in 11 Member States between December 2015 and January 2016. Stemming from these missions, our policy recommendations to address the current crisis challenges are clear and should be taken on board“, concluded Georges Dassis, referring to the “EESC report on the situation of refugees, as seen by civil society organisations” presented on 15 March 2016 to Commissioner Avramopoulos.

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