On 24 November 2020, the European Commission came out with an action plan on integration and inclusion. This plan has been built on the experience gained from the COVID-19 crisis, the previous action plan from 2016, as well as on the new pact on migration and asylum that came out in September 2020. Compared to the 2016 action plan, this one does not cover only third country nationals, but also migrants and EU citizens with migrant background. As such the action plan is based on the principle of inclusion for all, focusing on gender and anti-discrimination, in order to enhance migrants’ active participation in society via both short-term and long-term integration plans. This will be done also through more use of digital tools that increases the scope of people that can be helped, especially in the times of COVID-19.
The main actions in the Plan are:
- Inclusive education and training from early childhood to higher education, focusing on faster recognition of qualifications and language learning, with support from EU funds.
- Improving employment opportunities and skills recognition to fully value the contribution of migrant communities, and women in particular, and ensure that they are supported to reach their full potential. The Commission will work with social and economic partners and employers to promote labour market integration, support entrepreneurship, and make it easier for employers to recognise and assess skills.
- Dedicated EU funding to promote access to health servicesfor people born outside the EU and opportunities for Member States to exchange best practices.
- Access to adequate and affordable housing funded through the European Regional Development Fund, European Social Fund Plus, Asylum and Migration Fund and Invest EU, as well as funding platforms to exchange of experience at local and regional level on fighting discrimination on the housing market and segregation.
The document states that the EU intends to achieve those by making more stable partnerships with all parties involved: migrants, host communities, social and economic partners, civil and the private sector, and provide EU funding.
A response to the new action plan has been written by the alliance of 107 NGOs ECRE. According to them, the new action plan does not make it clear, concerning undocumented migrants, if the EU funding applies also for them, which could be a problem, since it will depend solely on decisions made on national level. Furthermore, the article considers the recommendations on EU funding for the recovery plan ‘limited and vague’.
Author: Centre for the Study of Democray (Bulgaria)