Social inclusion of migrants

For a long time, the policy papers of FYEG looked at migration only up until the reception of a residence permit. The migration campaign “Destination Europe” in 2003 didn’t discuss what came after that. It wasn’t the purpose of the campaign. In order to tackle this gap, a study session was initiated and carried out to discuss the green policy on social inclusion of migrants.

The assembled group of greenies and non-greenies brought up very inter­esting questions that FYEG needs to take into account when dealing with the topic and formulating a policy.

There is, first of all, the ques­tion of who is responsible for the social inclusion? Is it the state, the society or the migrants themselves? And what does it mean to be socially included; what goes along with it? Working fur­ther on this, what are requirements for being socially included and which of the above mentioned agents are re­quested to provide them?

Seeing migrants as individu­als and agents rather than as groups and victims is important. The gender perspective is another important as­pect of a policy to be created. The la­bour market is for sure one major key in social inclusion; but what does this mean when we are at the same time discussing to turn society away from wage labour to wards one in which work has more meaning but doesn’t limit who you are?

Formulating such a policy should happen soon. FYEG has done a good work and developed expertise on the issue of migration as such – from the moment a migrants becomes one, when s/he starts moving to the moment when s/he is permitted or not to stay in her/his country of resi­dence. We developed, during the cam­paign and afterwards, well founded positions and demands that we also brought into the EGP and made visi­ble to the green Members of European Parliament. I dare say that they have also had an influence on the debate within FYEG member organisations. This was reached through a campaign group, several exchanges, study ses­sions and other meetings and occa­sions of discussion and through the input of the Executive Committee and the Member Organisations.

But then, at the point of ar­rival and visa, we stopped. We didn’t discuss problems of access to health care of illegal migrants; the right to education of refugee kids; the right to vote of migrants and the representa­tion of migrants in labour unions. But all these things are a mayor issue for migrants, if you still want to call them such, once they arrive and stop mi­grating.

They are also essential ques­tions for the societies where the mi­grants have moved, and may create much more far-reaching problems for the migrants themselves than the problem of crossing borders and seas, if they are not well dealt with. Since migration has been one of the mayor issues of FYEG in the past years, the lack of positions on social inclusion of migrants is obvious and demands a solution.

In most, maybe all, European countries this is a mayor issue brought up in the public and we as FYEG of­fer no response and have no position yet; no common line apart from some vague statements that, once we go into detail, don’t seem to be very com­mon anymore, as participants of the wintercamp in Norway and the Social Inclusion study session will recall.

I’m sure many of the member organisations do have good positions on this, but we could use their ex­pertise on European level, too! What about voting rights? Is it a human right or will it increase the votes of right-wing parties? What about access to the labour market? FYEG should soon have positions on this. A debate between member organisations, semi­nars and the next General Assembly would be good opportunities to start the work.

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