Effort has been made to make the strategic partnership with the European Commission on Integration operation. The CoR Bureau has endorsed a proposal to that effct (R/CdR 1513/2012 item 6). As a first step in that direction the CoR is contributing to a mapping exercise, involving integration policies and practices at the local and regional level. This is going to be done by means of an interactive map on a dedicated section of the European Website on Integration (www.integration.eu).
In recognition of the previous own-initiative CoR opinion by the same rapporteur on "Local and regional authorities at the forefront of integration policies" adopted in February 2009 , the European Commission communication from the start acknowledged Tthe role of local and regional authorities in integration policies is clearly recognised from the start, as it is part of the Commission's original proposal "New European Agenda for Integration". The Commission also endorses the idea of using territorial pacts in this policy field, something the CoR has generally been calling for as a tool of multi-level governance. This need to incorporate local and regional authorities, notably through the CoR in this policy area has also been followed by the rotating Council Presidencies of the EU, who have asked for the CoR to contribute actively to their high level events dedicated to integration.
The European Commission and the European Economic and Social Committee regularly invite the CoR to the meetings of the European Integration Forum, which involve a dialogue with civil society and migrants' organisations. The last such occasion was the participation in the Forum dealing with family reunification, where the CoR was represented by Mr Sergio Soave (IT/PES), rapporteur on the opinion on the green paper on family reunification (CdR 10/2012,CIVEX-V-28).
This recognition and involvement has also been witnessed on the side of the European Parliament which invited the CoR notably to a hearing on EU funding migration, integration, asylum on 7 March 2012.
The CoR is cooperating with the Council of Europe Intercultural Cities Programme, which looks at integration from the intercultural perspective. In this regard it co-hosted the SPARDA (Shaping Perceptions and Attitudes to Realise the Diversity Advantage) project closing conference on "Cities and the diversity advantage: towards more effective communication and public debate", in Brussels 13 June 2012.
The CoR has also been called upon to contribute to other events linked to integration, for example a side event organised in the margins of the CoR external bureau in Nicosia on 6 September 2012 and a conference on "Immigration in Lombardy: the family as a motor of social cohesion", organised by the ISMU foundation in Milan on 15 March 2012..
THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS
- notes that full involvement of migrants in the economic, social and political life of their host cities and regions is essential to realising the Europe 2020 strategy objectives of economic, social and territorial cohesion;
- believes multilevel governance to be the most appropriate method for achieving optimum integration of migrants;
- commends the European Commission's position that integration policies must be developed at local level on a bottom-up basis;
- believes that territorial pacts provide a flexible framework for putting integration policies into effect because they permit implementation of measures and thematic priorities that are appropriate for each territorial unit and because they can reflect the division of powers between different levels of government, and the subsidiarity and proportionality principles;
- welcomes the European Commission's initiative on introducing European Integration Modules;
- considers it useful to form a strategic partnership between the CoR and the European Commission and European networks of cities and regions;
- this partnership could be created by setting up a network of local and regional authorities for integration, in which policy-making bodies from all levels of government, as well as civil society organisations, could take part. The CoR looks forward to the political, economic and operational support of the European Commission in fully implementing the strategic partnership it could be incorporated into the framework of existing mechanisms and initiatives.