« Regenera - santé - La Haye: Une caisse-maladie saisit la Cour européenne [FR] | Main | Stockholm: URBAN Futures (3/5-6/5, 2006) »

Integration: Opportunities ahead for Boosting it within your urban Projects. New EU Funding and more intercity Networking initiatives

Source: EUKN Brussels Bulletin*), 10.05.06, articles : Stuttgart Integration Network Initiative and New EU Integration Fund .

*) WANT TO SUBSCRIBE?If you would like to be kept informed, visit the EUKN Brussels Bulletin website and sign up !

Integration between immigrants (newcomers, people from different origins, religion, language and/or culture) and others is

  • not a sudden revelation, or a conversion on the road to Damascus,
  • nor is it blind adaptation (assimilation)
  • or simply learning the language and forget your mother tongue.

Neither is it

  • cuddling the exotic new neighbours, keeping them just where they were when they arrived,
  • or, worse still, keeping or making them dependent on you in order to get a “sustainable” paternalistic (maternalistic) role for yourself.

Racial conflicts, xenophobia at one side, and regression into a mythical culture that mostly has been overcome a long time ago in the countries of origin at te other hand, are often the disintegrational effects of those ways of handling “integration”.

No wonder, that the EU information service released (May 3) the following press release:

None of the various national policies for integrating immigrants are working well. This is the conclusion of a European Parliament conference on the subject on 25 April. The legal basis for adopting Europe-wide integration policies is virtually non-existent. The EU does feel it is its responsibility to assist national and local governments, however. Therefore the European Commission has proposed an EU integration fund for 2007-2013 worth about 1 billion to sponsor local projects and encourage authorities to share best practice.

"The national models have not reaped the fruits we hoped for", EU Justice, Freedom and Security Commissioner Franco Frattini said. The EU fund would "not supplant member state integration funds", he insisted, but could, for example, educate young people to respect the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. Mr Frattini is confident the Council of Ministers will agree to the fund of about 1 billion. The Commission originally proposed 1.77 billion but this was trimmed back considerably in the inter-institutional talks on the overall medium-term EU budget (the 2007-2013 financial perspective).

Stripped from the usual talk about internal budgetary struggles and positions, as well as the elements of subsidiarity-watching, this means, that, under pressure from the EU Parliament, the Commission is looking for ways, to help authorities and civil society in the EU, to overcome a crisis in this crucial field, crucial for security, economy and the sustainability of the welfare state.

The problem of a legal basis for EU policy here, which is lamentable and risks to provoke another rearguard battle by renationalisation fans, will have as an effect, that the Commission will not be able to earmark and constrict the use of the money in the field. That means an opportunity for the cities and the regions, as well as NGO’s, to come forward as guarantors for an affective and innovative spending of this money.

And here is, why:

Integration has to be integrated, to have a chance to succeed.

If it is not integrated into a broad effort to help all people who live together in a certain area, to catch up with society as a whole (economy, jobs, housing, education, leisure, etc.), “integrational” efforts often produce reverse results. Later in the day, it will be much harder, to overcome the rifts, created by projects that have unintentionally left behind anguish, stagnation and false hope.

For practical examples of how the “integrated” integration policies work, and why they are more effective, more sustainable and cost less, look at (two posts that will come up next). Practice has learned (see the “Urban Acquis”), that it is only on the local level, where NGO’s, the private sectors and local authorities work together, that integrated policies work.

Integration is, by definition (see: Babel, lemma “integration”[upcoming]) a two- or multi-sided process: it is reciprocal and works as a commonly invented and developed answer to change, particularly to new opportunities (such as those that are proposed by urban neighbourhood regeneration projects), that have to be tackled collectively. Only concrete, tangible issues, regarding people you can see around you every day, are the positive challenge that generates common answers from the people concerned. Answers that will be different in every existing configuration. Mostly positive and creative, unforeseeable, answers, that tend, however, to be neglected by “integration” officials, who work out of the book. (And only the most recent one, that reinvented under a new name old spasmodic policies, forgetting all the former ones and their evaluations).

That is why integration cannot be decreed from a government table, although lawmakers and governments are necessary to help create the conditions for it and make disappear conditions that are a hindrance to an effective integration process.

Integration policies are a patient approach to populations who are not sufficiently integrated with one another. The objective is: change. But you cannot order individuals to change. You can and should call them to order, without discrimination, when law and constitution are offended against. But that is not change, it is only restoring civic order. The change, individuals and groups in deprived situations eventually will embrace, is change that opens new opportunities to them, invites them to work for a secure material and cultural way of life, that restores their dignity and thus gives them a stake in upholding a civil and civic society.

We are discussing here processes of many years, each new generation, new migrations, posing new problems. In order to stimulate, monitor, steer those developments, a permanent, sustainable and very close presence among the communities themselves, using methods of open (but productive) dialogue, based on always more refined diagnoses (See Urbipedia, lemma “Diagnosis”), is a condition sine qua non. Steering such a process and integrating it into law, rules, budgets and planning, is only possible on a local level.

So here is why the cities come in as the best (and only) channels to make an extra European funding work. And, being practical people in the first place, how can we help our own local authority to weigh in on the new EU-generated opportunities?

We should stimulate existing European urban networks for integration policies, as we each try to mobilise our own city from our workplace. Is an integrational aspect present in your project, or can it shortly be planned, that needs extra funding? Is your city participating in an existing network, as there are within Eurocities, URBACT (UDIEX-ALEP, Citiz@Move and Regenera), or, could it maybe answer favourably to the invitation of the city of Stuttgart for a new Urban Integration Policies Network? The last one features already more than twenty cities, such as Paris, Haifa, Bologna and Glasgow. Your concrete proposals may help the Frattini DG to project a suitable set of rules for the distribution and the ways of funding and evaluating.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

References (1)

References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.
  • Related
    We seek to enhance the exchange of views and practical experience in a variety of topics touching common European issues and conditions in the field of integrating foreign residents and ethnic minorities at the level of local government. We want to facilitate the transfer of knowledge on a very practical level between European cities.

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
All HTML will be escaped. Hyperlinks will be created for URLs automatically.