Migration and Integration of refugees in the EU

On March 1st 2016, at the European Parliament, Municipalities, the Commission, SMEs and researchers discuss the best ways to face the great task of integrating the refugees into European societies.

Organised by the German Association of Cities and Municipalities (DStGB), the Friedrich-Ebert Foundation and European Entrepreneurs CEA-PME, members of the European Parliament, researchers, officials of the European Commission, as wel as many representatives of local administrations and enterprises focussed mainly on the challenge now faced by some EU-member states to solve in the most shortest time the necessary integration of refugees.

The event was opened by EP Vice-president Alexander Count Lambsdorff (ALDE), that underlined the necessity to reduce bureaucratic burdens and to think out of the box, wherever possible.

DStGB Deputy Managing Director Mr. Uwe Zimmermann presented the 7 points strategy of German municipalities, which name as first point the necessity to oblige refugees to stay in the same region / municipality in order to have a clear possibility to plan and organise all interventions for the integration of refugees. As also European Entrepreneuers CEA-PME Managing Director Mr. Stefan Moritz, he proposed to facilitate access to the labour market for refugees, included the possibility to be temporarily exempted from minimum wage obligations.

Of course the municipalities have a huge amount of work to do, what with the current resouces can't be done sufficiently, also taking into account the great contribution of volunteers and associations. That requires new finances from the EU and the member states.

For the Small- and Medium-sized Enterprises, Mr. Moritz proposed first to understand that we are facing an extraordinary situation and as such we need to undertake extraordinary actions, which can not be solved with "business as usual" and the current legal framework. As an example, he quoted the EU-wide valid "rule of priority" for European workers, which currently impeeds SMEs to hire accepted asylum seekers from third countries not before 15 months of waiting, if somewhere in Europe is a person that could do this job. This means 15 months more of public money to pay for an immigrant family's living costs, while this person could already earn this money on its own and pay taxes and social charges. Such an absurdity should be - at least temporarily - removed, and quickly.

In general, more involvement of the refugees themselves, instead of too much public support for everything, would be positive approach. Also here a good example could be to allow refugees to build their own homes, with simple self-building house models, instead of contracting companies to do so.

Parliament members Ms. Sabine Verheyen (EPP) and Mr. Peter Simon (S&D) closed the discussion with passionate statements for more optimism and commitment to contribute in Europe to a better integration of refugees in Europe.

Please find here enclosed the final summary, kindly prepared by Mr Klaus Nutzenberger, Head of the EU-Liaison Office of DStGB (in German): 2016_1403_kurzzusammenfassung.pdf


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