European countries have been urged to support the integration of refugees without doing so at the expense of vulnerable groups, Brando Benifei, an Italian MEP has said.
European countries “must support integration policies for refugees because this way they can become productive and useful for the development of the host societies,” Mr Benifei said. “However, we do insist that this not be done at the expense of other vulnerable groups, such as disabled people, the unemployed or large families.”
On 30th May 2016 the European Parliament’s Employment Committee adopted a report proposing concrete measures to tackle the increased competition on the labour market and challenges posed by arrival of a large number of refugees.
Mr Benifei, a member of the S&D group, who was the author of the report said: “We want more resources for social policy in Europe. The integration of those who get international protection – an obligation even as human beings in terms of solidarity for those who escape wars and threats to their life – has to be done in a way that does not create social dumping, intolerance or social dislocation in the host countries. The crisis hit a lot of European countries and we still see the economic consequences. We need to address the integration of refugees in a way that is not perceived as cancelling the policies that are there to support people in difficulties.”
He stressed that integration of refugees which is indeed a great challenge, “can be turned into a resource, an opportunity.”
Mr Benifei said refugees in Europe face many problems including language barriers, “the problem of getting their skills and competencies recognised, discrimination, integration problems in a country that is sometimes very different from the one they come from. These problems need to be dealt with effectively and at an early stage – to better understand who they are in terms of skills and how we can help with training and education.”
He stressed the importance of training refugees so they can meet the needs of businesses. They should also be helped to “find jobs based on their competencies and qualifications,” Mr Benifei said.
Asked what specific measures should be taken to facilitate integration of refugees, Mr Benifei said: “We need language courses and tailor-made programmes through the employment services. New technologies can serve as a means of communication. There are many examples in member states of the intelligent use of mobile apps and internet portals.
“We also need to remove administrative obstacles both in the processing of asylum requests, sometimes lengthy and muddled, as well as streamlining and simplifying the necessary paperwork for making access to employment and services as effective as possible. Making integration work does not only require updated legislative instruments, but also a well-balanced mix of measures involving all actors on the ground.”
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