Today, on the 15 of November, as part of the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, European integration policymakers and experts met in Tallinn to discuss topical issues and share best practices. The pan-European integration network that meets twice a year includes representatives from the European Union Member States as well as Iceland and Norway.
The main topics of discussion at the meeting were the role of European Union values in national integration policies and the activities based on the integration plans as promoters of social values. In addition, the various countries shared their experiences related to the integration agreements regarding third country nationals.
Estonian Minister of Culture Indrek Saar explained that integration is a priority topic in Europe as well as globally. “Integration affects all people and spheres of life from kindergartens to the labour market. Therefore, national integration plans play an important role as the transmitters of the values that we support as societies,” said Saar. “Sharing the European countries’ best practices is an important step in improving the cohesion of society,” Saar affirmed. The minister added that the preparation of the fundamental document for Estonia’s new integration policy will start in 2018, and therefore, sharing experiences with European partners is very topical.”
Speaking about the Estonian situation, the minister of culture explained that a significant challenge for Estonia’s integration policy is the promotion of cross-sectoral cooperation. “Cooperation between the business, public and third sectors can help to increase the sustainability and impact of integration activities. The role of the state is to establish favourable conditions for the successful functioning of this cooperation, since the best results related to integration can be achieved by involving the knowledge of the public sector, competitiveness of the business sector, and the energy of the non-profit sector.”
According to the European Commission, integration is one of the most important aspects for promoting the fastest possible integration of migrants into the labour market. “Active participation in the labour market of the target country is an important step in the migrants’ successful integration process, and the European Commission has recently implemented several initiatives in this field,” confirmed Matthias Oel, Director General of the Directorate General for Migration and Home Affairs at the European Commission. “In addition to integrating migrants into the labour market, it is important to pay more attention to their opportunities for participating in the cultural, social and political life of the target country. Integration policy must be based on Europe’s common fundamental values, but also value cultural diversity,” Oel emphasised.
The European Integration Network (EIN) was created in 2016 in connection with the approval of the European Commission’s action plan for the integration of third country nationals. In addition to the 28 European Union Member States, the network includes the representatives of the responsible ministries from Iceland and Norway. The main role of the network is to improve cooperation between the member states, promote sectoral communication between European, national and regional state agencies, as well as other EU networks that deal with issues related to the employment, education and equality issues of migrants.
Undersecretary for Cultural Diversity, Ministry of Culture