Today EU Commissioners Ylva Johansson and Margaritis Schinas launched the EU's new Action Plan on Integration and Inclusion.

Imogen Sudbery, the International Rescue Committee's Director of Policy and Advocacy for Europe, responded:

"When refugees and asylum-seekers are given the opportunity to contribute socially, culturally and economically it benefits everyone – both receiving countries and refugees. That’s why we’re pleased that the EU has finally launched its new Action Plan on Integration and Inclusion, closing an almost two-year gap since the previous 2016-2018 plan expired.

The Commission’s decision to extend the length of the new Plan from two to six years is a great start, aligning with the EU’s next budget and giving Member States more time to ensure this vision becomes reality. It’s encouraging to see the focus on employment and, in particular, the faster recognition of qualifications - currently a key barrier to integration for refugees and asylum-seekers. 

The IRC believes that the integration of women should be a priority in its own right. The proposed mainstreaming approach falls short of this, but we welcome this new Plan’s comprehensive and intersectional view towards discrimination.

We also warmly welcome the fact that this Plan is the result of inclusive consultations, including with refugees and migrants as well as with employers, and that a multi-stakeholder partnership approach forms part of its key principles. However, the next challenge will be to make sure that, this time, it has full support from Member States, which are ultimately responsible for integration laws and policies within their own borders.

We share Commissioner Johansson’s assessment that ultimately “Member States have to do the job”, and we hope that this renewed and improved Action Plan will provide a springboard for more support from governments and full implementation at the national level. 

If EU interior ministers truly believe that “a sense of belonging and equality is of central importance for social cohesion”, as outlined in their joint statement on 13 November, they must ensure that new arrivals have the necessary support to overcome any hurdles on their pathway towards integration.

A robust framework through which to welcome refugees and empower them to regain control of their futures could be transformative for new arrivals and receiving communities alike."

You can read more about the IRC's recommendations for the EU Action Plan in our report Getting Back on Track, published in October 2019.