Projects End But the Migration-Integration Battle Goes On

September 16th, 2015

Opinion by Jim Gibbons, EU Reporter Correspondent

If Europe is to retain its current output of goods and services, it will need to welcome in a further 56 million migrants by 2050 to make up for theMigrantWorkers shrinking birth rate. That’s not the sort of fact that will go down well with some of Europe’s populist parties and certain sections of the media, but the figure comes from the International Labour Organization. The ILO’s chief of the Labour Migration Branch gave the blunt fact to a large group of people already committed to fighting for integration at a conference to mark the end of two projects aimed at improving the lives of migrants in Europe. The projects may have ended but those involved promised to keep up the fight – even though the current funding is coming to an end. The projects were jointly funded by the EU’s Integration Fund and the Council of Europe which also ran them.

DELI: Diversity in the Economy and Local Integration

Diversity in the Economy and Local Integration, known by its acronym, DELI, set out to highlight the position of migrants in the wider economy and to encourage other migrants to set themselves up in business. It was based on the principle of “Diversity Advantage”, which sees the variety of different peoples as a way to enrich the range of products, services and ways to do things by offering different approaches derived from the people’s differing origins.

The theory behind it was that individual cities could hold the key to making it work, being closer to the people involved, and a total of ten cities took part. City administrations joined with civil society, educators and local businesses to help. A number of very successful migrant-owned enterprises were launched and there has been a high level of interest in learning more. Some migrant businesses have won major tendering contracts with city administrations. The other project, Communication for Integration, C4i, worked on a similar basis, partnering eleven cities with the aim of countering the sorts of negative rumours that circulate about newly-arriving migrants, training local people to tackle the urban myths about migrants head-on.

The projects launched in January 2014, but those attending the final conference in Brussels were determined to keep up the work, seeking other sources of finance and getting involved with new partners to carry it out. As one delegate pointed out, there is still a long way to go. Migrant entrepreneurs often find it harder to access capital, to convince banks and potential partners to trust them.

Furthermore, unemployment among migrant groups stands at 22% – twice the EU average, while 44.3% find themselves at risk of poverty and exclusion, compared with an EU average of 24.8%. And yes, even that figure is frighteningly high, but as Irena Guidikova, Intercultural Cities Programme Manager at the Council of Europe told delegates, if society is downplaying the rights of migrants, it means they’re also likely to downplay the rights of every citizen, locals included. Across Europe, she said, the commitment to human rights that we once took for granted is being rolled back.

This article was originally published with title, Two Projects End – But the Migration-Integration Battle Goes On, in the EU Reporter on June 25, 2015 and has been reproduced  here with permission. 

About the author: Jim Gibbons has more than 30 years’ experience reporting on European politics for a wide range of broadcasters. He won two major awards at the 2004 CNN World Report Awards in Atlanta for his TV reporting from the European Parliament – Best Political Report and Best Environmental Report.

Read Them and US, or should it be WE, opinion by Jim Gibbons, EU Reporter, June 3, 2015. Watch “Them, Us and We” video film by Jim Gibbons, July 23, 2015.

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Learn more about the Diversity in the Economy and Local Integration (DELI) project and the Communication for Integration (C4i) project, co-funded by the Council of Europe and the European Integration Fund:

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