According to the European Union, “social exclusion is a process whereby certain individuals are pushed to the edge of society and prevented from participating fully by virtue of their poverty, or lack of basic competencies and lifelong learning opportunities, or as a result of discrimination. This distances them from job, income and education opportunities as well as social and community networks and activities. They have little access to power and decision-making bodies and thus often feeling powerless and unable to take control over the decisions that affect their day to day lives” (EU 2010). While social inclusion is defined as “a process which ensures that those at risk of poverty and social exclusion gain the opportunities and resources necessary to participate fully in economic, social and cultural life”.
It is fundamental to ensure that society is as welcoming as possible. In this way, all the members of society will be able to fully express their potential and enjoy all the rights they are entitled to. Societies need to be prepared to accept people with diverse backgrounds who might have been facing problems in the course of their lives.
This toolkit will focus on the social inclusion of refugees and asylum seekers. Training in this regard will include self-reflection exercises and activities aimed at preparing communities to be welcoming and inclusive. Additionally, in this Toolkit project ideas that have shown positive effects in facilitating the inclusion process will be presented.
Integration policies and measures are a national competence. However, the European Union has encouraged the adoption of integration policies through different policies.
- Treaty of Amsterdam (1999). In order to reach the objective of creating an area of freedom, security and justice, the Heads of States and Governments decided upon the Tampere programme aimed, among others, at improving the integration of Third Country Nationals in the EU.
- Common Basic Principles for Immigrant Integration Policy (2004). This document identifies some basic principles which shall guide the member states in the design of integration policies. These include the idea that integration is a two way process, which shall involve frequent interactions between the migrant community and the residents within the Member state; but also the recognition of employment, education, access to institutions s well as public and private goods and services are fundamental to ensure migrants’ active participation in the hosting society. Moreover, migrants shall take part in the formulation of integration policies and measures, especially at local level. Policy makers shall make sure that their opinions are taken into consideration and that the measures implemented are mainstreamed in all relevant policy portfolios and levels of government and public services.
- The Common Agenda for the Integration of Third Country Nationals (2005). This document provides mechanisms and support to promote integration and exchange between the different actors involved in the integration process.
- Treaty of Lisbon (2007). The Article 63a of the Treaty states that the European institutions have mandate to “provide incentives and support for the action of Member States with a view to promoting the integration of third-country nationals”(Art. 63a).
- The Common Agenda for the Integration of Third-Country Nationals (2011). The new Agenda focuses on increasing economic, political, cultural and social participation of third country nationals, but it also includes actions to fight discrimination.
- The Action Plan on the Integration of Third Country Nationals (2016). This document provides support to the Member States in developing and strengthening their integration policies. It includes specific measures that the Commission will undertake in this respect, and also the widely criticised possibility for EU Member States to take preventive measures through agreements with the countries of origin of the main migrant flows.
What shall be done to ensure that the integration process is successful?
- Integration starts at the arrival. In the Agenda for Integration of Refugees in Central Europe, the UNHCR Hungary points out the need for the inclusion process to start at arrival stage, as the social isolation experienced in the first days from the arrival in the country can continue afterwards, when the asylum procedure is completed.
- Make Asylum Process shorter. One of the requirements for citizens to be able to fully enjoy their rights is the possession of documents that proves the legal status of the individual. Therefore, it is necessary to ensure that newly arrived migrants receive their documents as soon as possible, in order for them to be able to access services and work, thus being also able to plan their future. Access of migrants to the labour market has positive effects on self-reliance and social interaction, but it is also beneficial to the receiving society.
- Provision of training opportunities. Training opportunities shall be provided, not only language training, but also vocational trainings that could facilitate the access to the job market in the hosting society. The trainings shall be accredited by educational authorities and provided by professional teachers.
- Provision of integration services shall be coordinated by the state. Inclusion and integration services are often provided by NGOs and voluntary organisations. As these services are often offered on a voluntary base or are related to a specific project, it means that there is a lack in the continuity of the service. The state shall provide overall coordination, in order to make sure that the services provided are significant for the target group, but also to ensure funding for the providers.
- Changing the view of hosting society. Politicians and media houses are often portraying the migration phenomenon as a threat to the security of the state. This justifies the need for more training for the societies to be more inclusive.
Each of the training kits developed in the frame of the PAPYRUS project takes into consideration one specific aspect that is important in ensuring the overall inclusion of the target group. This ensures that youth workers, volunteers and practitioners are able to plan their activities in an effective way.
This specific training kit aims at enabling the reader to address exclusion factors in an interactive way, not only through actions targeting refugees and asylum seekers, but also through awareness raising exercises that improve the tolerance and openness of the social context in which they operate.
- Eurostat (2010), Combating poverty and social exclusion: a statistical portrait of the European Union, available at: http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/documents/3217494/5723553/KS-EP-09-001-EN.PDF/beb36abc-ff29-48a0-8518-32b64ad73ca5
- Treaty of Lisbon (2007), full text available at: http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=celex%3A12007L%2FTXT
- Council of the European Union, Press Release – 2618th Council Meeting, 19th November 2004. Available at: http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_data/docs/pressdata/en/jha/82745.pdf
- Common Agenda for the Integration of Third-Country Nationals (2005), available at: http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/ALL/?uri=CELEX%3A52005DC0389
- Common Agenda for the Integration of Third-Country Nationals (2011), available at: http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/ALL/?uri=celex%3A52011DC0455
- UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), UNHCR Agenda for the Integration of Refugees in Central Europe, April 2009, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4bfe72542.html [accessed 4 January 2018]
 UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), UNHCR Agenda for the Integration of Refugees in Central Europe, April 2009, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4bfe72542.html [accessed 4 January 2018].
 UNHCR, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, is a United Nations programme with the mandate to protect refugees, forcibly displaced communities and stateless people, and assist in their voluntary repatriation, local integration.