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Four areas of integration: EU Action Plan on Integration and Inclusion (2021-2027)

On the 24 November 2020, the European Commission has released Action Plan on Integration and Inclusion (2021-2027). 

The Action Plan was primarily announced in the the New Pact on Asylum and Migration, complex document that reveals the vision of migration policy of the European Union, solidarity mechanism and responsibility sharing among member states. 

Although  assumptions of migration policy appear to be a subject to shared competences between the EU and its member-states, the last are responsible for integration policy. The evidence shows that even though member states develop the legal and policy frameworks to improve integration, their implementation in practice often deviates significantly from primary assumptions. The  released Action Plan presents then a guideline and detailed recommendations for various stakeholders as national governments, regional and local authorities and civil society, aimed at improving integration and inclusion strategies.

The Action Plan replaces the previous document - Action Plan for Integration of third country nationals. For the first time the concept of integration is expanded and includes EU citizens of migrant background as a target group. 

The presented document focuses on four core areas of integration and inclusion: employment, education, health and housing, which are primarily related to success of long-term integration of people with migration and refugee background. Gaps and shortcomings resulting from the insufficient policy actions of nation and local authorities negatively affect the situation of new residence and cohesion of the society as a whole. Referring to the proposed actions in each particular area, it is worth highlighting the matter of the problem. 

Lack of sufficient and needs-oriented policies in areas of employment, education, health and housing create a close circle of precariousness for migrants, asylum seekers and beneficiaries of international protection in particular. As members of a new society they face obstacles and difficulties in access to affordable housing, which often forces them to stay in facilities that do not comply with hygiene standards. Lack of specialised language courses minimises chances for employment. Moreover in majority of EU states migrants and beneficiaries of international protection face problems with recognition of their education and diplomas, which makes it impossible to find an employment according to their profession and skills. Underemployment and working without access to social security remain to be a significant condition of vulnerability and lower living standards. Administrative and language barriers, lack of health insurance impact the accessibility of  health services in the country of stay for migrants in general, and migrants with special health needs in particular, although  good health is both a precondition and a consequence of full participation in society. 

Referring to the obstacles in four areas mentioned above, the European Commission proposes a list of actions, the most important of which are listed below.  

•    improvement of  language learning programmes,  educational participation and attainment
•    improvement of recognition of qualifications

•    promotion of  migrants’ access to health services
•    ensuring support to  Member States on prevention and health promotion programmes

•    working with employers and social and economic partners to promote labour market inclusion
•    promotion of migrants’ entrepreneurship
•    facilitation od  assessment and validation of skills

•    promotion of adequate and affordable housing and accompanying integration services
•    providing support for autonomous housing schemes for asylum applicants
•    fostering exchange of experiences between Member States, cities & regions on fighting discrimination in housing market and reducing residential segregation. 

Kseniya Homel 
NIEM’s researcher 
The European and Migration Policy Programme
Institute of Public Affairs


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