On 5 and 6 of November 2014 the Italian Presidency organized a Ministerial Conference on Integration, with the aim to further develop the Strategic Guidelines concerning the area of Freedom, Security and Justice adopted by the European Council in June 2014. The discussion built upon the Common Basic Principles adopted on 19 November 2004, the informal meeting of EU Integration Ministers of Zaragoza of 15-16 April 2010, the following Council Conclusions on Integration adopted on 3-4 June 2010, and the Council Conclusions adopted on 5 and 6 June 2014.
In this context delegations agreed on the need to explore the key aspects of integration, focusing on the different levels of governance at which the integration process unfolds and on the interconnections that exist between integration and related policy fields. The following aspects, linked to education, should be taken into consideration:
I. Addressing integration through a comprehensive approach
The Council Conclusions on the integration of third-country nationals legally residing in the EU of 5 and 6 June 2014 recognized the importance of a comprehensive approach to integration and of mainstreaming policies and practices in all relevant policy sectors and levels of government. The Conclusions further specified that such an approach to integration presupposes inter alia effective reception policies and measures responding to the specific needs of both individuals and different groups of migrants, which are more likely to be exposed to social exclusion, including beneficiaries of international protection.
The 2005 Common Agenda for Integration indicated several measures to favour migrants’ access to the labour market, including innovative approaches to prevent labour market discrimination, training courses, exploring additional ways of recognising newcomers’ qualifications and facilitated conditions for accessing the labour market for women. Efforts in this field should continue to be a priority for European States not only because non-discrimination is a fundamental principle of EU law but also because, as recognized by the EU 2020 strategy, increasing migrants’ access to the labour market is crucial to achieve sustainable economic growth in Europe.
Non-discrimination plays a central role also regarding migrants’ access to education. The common basic principle number 5 states that efforts in education are critical to preparing immigrants, and particularly their descendants, to be more successful and more active participants in society. To this regard, the Council Conclusions of November 2009 on the education of children with a migrant background invited Member States to set up or strengthen anti-discrimination mechanisms, increasing the permeability of pathways within school systems and removing barriers to individual progression through the system, in order to combat segregation and contribute to higher achievement levels for migrant learners. Children with a migrant background should be provided with targeted support in order to fill the gap in education results that still exists between them and children belonging to the native population.
III. Mainstreaming of integration policies
As shown by initiatives undertaken in several countries, mainstreamed policies present numerous advantages. First of all, they allow responding to the needs of heterogeneous and increasing diverse societies, pushing towards a diffuse sensibility to diversity that contrasts discrimination and stereotypes. Secondly, they allow better coping with the rising number of second- and third-generation immigrants, who may face structural barriers to succeeding in education or on the labour market. Finally, if properly managed, mainstreaming of integration priorities also allows designing policies that are both cost-effective and capable of improving outcomes for the society as a whole, thus maximizing the impact of public resources.
IV. Monitoring of integration policies
The common basic principle number 11 states that developing clear goals, indicators and evaluation mechanisms is necessary to adjust policy, evaluate progress on integration and to make the exchange of information more effective. Following the priorities set by the Potsdam ministerial conference in May 2007 and reaffirmed by the Vichy Ministerial conference in November 2008, the ministerial conference held in Zaragoza in 2010 identified Common European “indicators” in four areas of relevance for integration: employment, education, social inclusion and active citizenship. Stressing the importance of such indicators, the Commission stated in its 2011 European Agenda for Integration the intention to monitor developments in this field and formulate recommendations, in dialogue with the Member States.
Read the draft outcome of proceedings from the European Ministerial Conference on Integration (Milan, 5-6 November 2014) via Italian Presidency webpage