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Assessing the Integration of Vulnerable Migrant Groups

On 28 May 2015, the Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD) organised in Brussels a policy conference addressing problems related to monitoring the integration of vulnerable migrants (migrant women, children and victims of trafficking). The policy conference presented the final results and the key recommendations of an international comparative study conducted in ten EU Member States, before key stakeholders at EU level. The ten countries of the study included Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Spain.

The Conference was joined by Mr Christian Pirvulescu, Member of the Permanent Study Group on Immigration and Integration, European Economic and Social Committee and by Ms Valeria Setti, Policy Officer at the Legal Migration and Integration Unit, DG Migration and Home Affairs, European Commission who gave opening speeches. Mr Pirvulescu outlined the crucial role that the civil society plays in the process of assessment of integration measures as well as in mobilizing efforts and initiatives for the inclusion of vulnerable groups into the societies of the Member States of the EU. He expressed the opinion that integration measures for vulnerable migrants should become more effective stressing the need to improve the access to vocational training and to broader social services for migrant children.

In her opening speech Ms Valeria Setti stressed that integration policies for migrants are of primary importance for the EU Member States. She turned attention to the complexity of the integration process of third country nationals that shouldn’t be evaluated only based on the Zaragoza Indicators. Contextual factors such as public opinion, politics and discrimination should also be taken into account. Ms Setti also touched upon the big debate about integrating TCN through mainstream policies or through targeted policies for TCN of different categories. She stressed the value of the ASSESS project in making the presence of different vulnerable subgroups of TCN in the EU more visible.

Dr Jean-Pierre Gauci, Director of The People for Change Foundation presented the main results of the comparative study conducted in the ten EU Member States. Dr Gauci pointed that different migration realities result in different levels of engagement in migrant integration and therefore in different results. He expressed concern about the negative portrayal of migrants in the public spaces of many Member States and reminded that having good policies does not always equal reaching good integration results. Dr Gauci outlined that monitoring is a requirement in the integration process but in some cases it is seen more as a bureaucratic task rather than as an assessment meant to lead to improved integration measures. Some of the main recommendations put forward by Dr Gauci include the need to prioritise evaluation in integration policy; to conduct external monitoring of integration policies by NGOs and think tanks; the need for development of data collection mechanisms at national level and for conduct of inclusive monitoring.

Dr Mila Mancheva, senior research fellow at CSD, presented the main findings and the policy recommendations for improvement of the integration of vulnerable migrant women, children and victims of trafficking. Dr Mancheva outlined the integration outcomes for the three groups of TCN by way of comparison with native population in a number of social spheres such as education, employment, inclusion, political participation and anti-discrimination. Dr Mancheva stressed the importance of studying the factors contributing to negative or positive performance of vulnerable migrants and outlined some key recommendations for improvement of data collection mechanisms at EU and at national level.

The presentation of main results was followed by a lively discussion under the moderation of Prof. Heaven Crowley, Chair in International Migration, Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations at Coventry University. The main topics raised in the discussion regarded the role of politicians in convincing EU societies of the values of integration; the need to develop indicators for measuring TCN integration that target not only TCN but also the host societies and their willingness and openness for welcoming and accommodating migrants; the need to assure sustainability of integration services by allocating a minimum of integration services into the responsibility of the governments.

The participants in the policy forum
Mr. Christian Pirvulescu, European Economic and Social Committee
Ms Valeria Setti, Policy Officer, DG Migration and Home Affairs, European Commission
Dr Jean-Pierre Gauci, Director, People for Change Foundation, Malta
Dr Mila Mancheva, Senior Analyst,CSD

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