Draft outcome of proceedings from the European Ministerial Conference on Integration (Milan, 5-6 November 2014)

On 5 and 6 of November 2014 the Italian Presidency organized a Ministerial Conference on Integration, with the aim to further develop the Strategic Guidelines concerning the area of Freedom, Security and Justice adopted by the European Council in June 2014. The discussion built upon the Common Basic Principles adopted on 19 November 2004, the informal meeting of EU Integration Ministers of Zaragoza of 15-16 April 2010, the following Council Conclusions on Integration adopted on 3-4 June 2010, and the Council Conclusions adopted on 5 and 6 June 2014.

In this context delegations agreed on the need to explore the key aspects of integration, focusing on the different levels of governance at which the integration process unfolds and on the interconnections that exist between integration and related policy fields. The following aspects, linked to education, should be taken into consideration:

I. Addressing integration through a comprehensive approach

The Council Conclusions on the integration of third-country nationals legally residing in the EU of 5 and 6 June 2014 recognized the importance of a comprehensive approach to integration and of mainstreaming policies and practices in all relevant policy sectors and levels of government. The Conclusions further specified that such an approach to integration presupposes inter alia effective reception policies and measures responding to the specific needs of both individuals and different groups of migrants, which are more likely to be exposed to social exclusion, including beneficiaries of international protection.

II. Non-discrimination

The 2005 Common Agenda for Integration indicated several measures to favour migrants’ access to the labour market, including innovative approaches to prevent labour market discrimination, training courses, exploring additional ways of recognising newcomers’ qualifications and facilitated conditions for accessing the labour market for women. Efforts in this field should continue to be a priority for European States not only because non-discrimination is a fundamental principle of EU law but also because, as recognized by the EU 2020 strategy, increasing migrants’ access to the labour market is crucial to achieve sustainable economic growth in Europe.

Non-discrimination plays a central role also regarding migrants’ access to education. The common basic principle number 5 states that efforts in education are critical to preparing immigrants, and particularly their descendants, to be more successful and more active participants in society. To this regard, the Council Conclusions of  November 2009 on the education of children with a migrant background invited  Member States to set up or strengthen anti-discrimination mechanisms, increasing the permeability of pathways within school systems and removing barriers to individual progression through the system, in order to combat segregation and contribute to higher achievement levels for migrant learners. Children with a migrant background should be provided with targeted support in order to fill the gap in education results that still exists between them and children belonging to the native population.

III. Mainstreaming of integration policies

As shown by initiatives undertaken in several countries, mainstreamed policies present numerous advantages. First of all, they allow responding to the needs of heterogeneous and increasing diverse societies, pushing towards a diffuse sensibility to diversity that contrasts discrimination and stereotypes. Secondly, they allow better coping with the rising number of second- and third-generation immigrants, who may face structural barriers to succeeding in education or on the labour market. Finally, if properly managed, mainstreaming of integration priorities also allows designing policies that are both cost-effective and capable of improving outcomes for the society as a whole, thus maximizing the impact of public resources.

IV. Monitoring of integration policies

The common basic principle number 11 states that developing clear goals, indicators and evaluation mechanisms is necessary to adjust policy, evaluate progress on integration and to make the exchange of information more effective. Following the priorities set by the Potsdam ministerial conference in May 2007 and reaffirmed by the Vichy Ministerial conference in November 2008, the ministerial conference held in Zaragoza in 2010 identified Common European “indicators” in four areas of relevance for integration: employment, education, social inclusion and active citizenship. Stressing the importance of such indicators, the Commission stated in its 2011 European Agenda for Integration the intention to monitor developments in this field and formulate recommendations, in dialogue with the Member States.

Read the draft outcome of proceedings from the European Ministerial Conference on Integration (Milan, 5-6 November 2014) via Italian Presidency webpage

Germany: Pedagogical experience in Berlin to better integrate immigrant children

In the face of repeated violence at the Rutli school located in the poor neighbourhood of Neukölln in Berlin, teachers were asked to close their facility in March 2006 .

The mayor responded by gathering on the same site a primary school, a middle school and a high school in order to adapt the teaching to the levels of students. This mix has paid off because today the city school has over 900 students and only 5% leave the institution without a degree.

Listen to the report in French via France Inter

Italy: Foreign children in Italian schools – the SIPPS is a resource for the younger generation

The Italian school is increasingly multiracial. A large number of children who are present in the classrooms of our cities, from north to south, from kindergarten to high school. And this, according to the Italian Society of Preventive and Social Paediatrics, can only enrich the Italian children.

Multiculturalism – says the president of the SIPPS, Drs. Joseph Di Mauro – is a great resource, not a barrier, for the younger generation. It is an opportunity for children to socialize and get in touch with reality which is often completely different from ours . “

The school becomes the place that most favours integration, bringing together the host community and the community of migrant children. (…) In fact – adds Dr. Pier Carlo Wages , pediatrician clinic in Milan and a member of SIPPS -schools should educate the child with respect for others , regardless of their origin. The intercultural dimension involves the whole school, which has the job of creating equal opportunity for learning, justice and equity.”

Recent research (MR Contini, Interculturality and Social Bonds Formation: a Case Study on Immigrant and Native Preadolescents in Italy. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences 2014; 149: 233-241), conducted by administering a questionnaire to a sample of more than 1,300 Italian and foreign preteens attending the second and third year of secondary school degree in Abruzzo, has highlighted the potential and critical issues which can be summarized as follows:

    • Almost a third of the Italian respondents do not spend time with pre-adolescent peers of a nationality other than their own.
    • Half of the non-Italian students spend time mainly with peers of the same nationality.
    • Most foreigners who arrived in Italy after the age of seven meet their friends outside of school and they tend to be of their own nationality.
    • The age of migration is a factor that works in favour of closer relations with Italians and boys / girls of different nationalities.
    • Chinese students were the most likely to spend time with boys / girls of their own nationality.
    • Girls show a greater openness than boys to engaging in friendly relationships within the school and with peers from different countries.
    • Italian and foreign students do not perceive there to be attitudes of discrimination against foreigners by Italian classmates or teachers.

Read more in Italian on Leonardo.it

Spain: A study positively evaluates the integration of children of immigrants

crecer en espanyaA study, based on interviews with 6,905 children of immigrants in Madrid and Barcelona confirms that “some things have been well done” in integrating these young people into Spanish society, as 78.4% of them did not have any problematic behaviour by the age of 18. The study, entitled Growing up in Spain. The integration of children of immigrants, was presented at CIDOB, the Barcelona Centre for International Affairs by Rosa Aparicio, researcher at the José Ortega y Gasset University Institute and Professor Alejandro Portes of the University of Princeton.

The longitudinal study of the second generation (RELSEG) in the Spanish context was inspired by the CILS project in the US. RELSEG started in Spain in 2007-2008 and gathered data on 6,905 children of immigrants from the first three years of compulsory secondary education. In 2010, the parents of 1,843 of those children were interviews and in 2012, new data was collected on 73% of the children originally interviewed (1,900).

The study indicates that half of the children identify themselves as Spanish and that there are no significant differences between men (49.4%) and women (47.1%), or in those who live in Madrid (49.4%) or Barcelona (46.9%). By the age of 18, the main difference is between those who were born in Spain to parents from abroad (the 2nd generation), of which 81.5% identify with the country, compared to 40.7% of children born abroad and who moved to Spain when they were small.

When looking at the perception of discrimination, only 5%  stated that they had been discriminated again “often or very often”, which is almost the same as native children (6.1%).

For further information in Spanish, read the article from La Vanguardia