Local Integration Requires Long-Term Commitment of All

July 31st, 2013

Ulrich Maly, the Mayor of Nuremberg and President, Deutscher Städtetag (German Association of Cities), together with other prominent members of Germany’s leading municipal associations, addresses the critical role cities play to integrate immigrants through language classes, education and participation. He argues that this work needs the full commitment of federal and state governments to ensure success.

On the occasion of the recent Integration Summit of Municipal Associations (Kommunale Spitzenverbände zum Integrationsgipfel) in Berlin, the presidents of Germany’s leading municipal associations (Ulrich MalyDeutscher Städtetag;  Hans Jörg Duppré, Deutscher Landkreistag; and Christian SchrammDeutscher Städte- und Gemeindebund) made the following statement on the importance of municipalities to the success of integration in Germany:

Integration takes place mainly in cities, counties and towns and it is at this level that priorities must be addressed and commitments made to sustain the significant resources required by integration projects. However, significant conditions are imposed by federal and state governments and, therefore, federal and state policies must be improved.

For the vast majority of cities, counties and towns, integration is a matter of high to very high local political importance and demands appropriate action. This is confirmed by a study by the Institute for Democratic Development and Social Integration (DESI) on the state of local integration policies in Germany. According to the report, 70 % of the municipalities surveyed supplement federal and state funding with additional support to language and educational services. Three quarters of all municipalities have implemented cost-effective social and cultural activities. Many local programs are available to promote entry into the labour market, support local networks and cooperation with migrant organizations, and are contributing to civic engagement and overall social inclusion.

“Demographics tell us that integration is an ongoing commitment that is crucial to peaceful social coexistence, to the future of our society and to our prosperity. Municipalities are aware of their great responsibility [in this area]. They promote a multifaceted approach to the integration process focused on core competencies that include the German language, the highest possible and most effective education as well as support for successfully entering one’s occupation. At the same time, it is important for migrants to actively participate in a wide variety of activities related to specific community planning and design processes.

Under the National Integration Plan and the National Integration Action Plan, the municipal associations have made a commitment to promote and further strengthen community integration processes. To achieve this, member organizations share ideas and information, ensure the dissemination of best practices and organize regular exchanges of experience. Many cities have now implemented integration objectives or are developing municipal integration strategies. More and more often, dedicated neighbourhood groups are involved in the settlement and coexistence of all residents. Funding programs such as the federal-state “Social City” program are indispensable to this work, as are the programs of the European Social Fund.

Integration is not a one-way process, but requires the commitment of all parties involved. It involves people with a migration background. It involves not only cities, counties, municipalities, but also civil society, associations, trade unions, churches and businesses and, of course, state and federal governments. To promote the potentials of people with a migration background, local authorities require adequate financial resources. This puts municipalities that are economically weak in a difficult situation.

Statement by Dr. Ulrich Maly, Mayor of Nuremberg and President, Deutscher Städtetag; Hans Jörg Duppré, District Chief of Landkreises Südwestpfalz and President, Deutscher Landkreistag; and Christian Schramm, Lord Mayor of Bautzen and President, Deutscher Städte- und Gemeindebund. (28 May 2013)

Reprinted with permission from the Deutscher Städtetag website (modified in translation).

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