To stress that integration happens mainly at local level and a multi-level governance approach is needed;
To underline that integration as a policy area cannot stand in isolation and has to run through various policy areas such as education, employment, welfare, public health, housing, etc. and should be implemented horizontally;
To show some good examples of integration policies;
To call for active involvement of the CoR in networks, fora and platforms related to integration.
The opinion on the integration of third-country nationals has contributed to the recognition of the key role the local and regional authorities play in the integration of migrants. The European Commission recognises this crucial role in the communication on the delivery of the European Agenda on Migration (COM/2017/0558 final, September 2017).The work done by local authorities is also acknowledged in the OECD study on Integration of migrants and refugees at the local level (April 2018), based on a survey of 72 cities.
This opinon is the basis for the set up of the Cities and regions for integration initiative, a platform for LRAs to exhange good pracitcse on integration policies.The integration initiative was formally launched by the COR President on 10th of April plenary session.
See pages 89-95 of the follow-up report drafted by the European Commission: https://cor.europa.eu/en/our-work/Documents/Opinions/EC-Follow-up-December-2016.pdf
THE EUROPEAN COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS
- points out that the political level closest to citizens is where the real integration policy is carried out. This means that a multi-level governance approach is highly appropriate, clearly one with a special focus on local and regional authorities, since they are confronted most directly with the challenges and opportunities of integration;
- emphasises that integration is a two-way process that should form part of the framework of rights and obligations for the third country national and the host society, both of which have to shoulder their responsibilities;
- emphasises that the social and economic costs of the failure to integrate third country nationals may well exceed the investments needed in integration policy and the potential which results from this;
- is convinced that integration policy should focus more on the considerable diversity that exists within the various third country nationals' groups and their different needs;
- stresses that European society is based on fundamental norms and values such as democracy, the rule of law, freedom of expression, freedom of religion, equality between men and women, human rights, solidarity, tolerance, etc.; is convinced that, if integration is to be successful, both third country nationals and the host society must understand and accept these European norms and values. Integration policy should also cover civic integration and community-building;
- points out that knowledge of the language of the host country is vital in order to be able to integrate successfully; calls for systems to be set up, possibly based on internships, as well as advisory services and legal assistance, enabling third country nationals to gain access to the labour market as quickly as possible;
- calls on the Commission to limit excessive administrative complexity and bureaucracy with regard to the monitoring mechanisms of the different European funds that are used for integration projects.