On 7 June the European Commission presented its Action Plan to support Member States in the integration of third-country nationals and their economic and social contribution to the EU. The Action Plan provides a common policy framework and supporting measures and it sets out the concrete policy, operational and financial support to be delivered at EU level to support them in their efforts.
Whilst integration policies remain a national competence, in the current context many EU Member States are facing similar challenges, and the EU can add value through the structural and financial support it provides.
The Action Plan presents tools to strengthen coordination between the different actors working on integration at national, regional and local level and a more strategic approach on EU funding for integration in order to maximise EU financial support to Member States' policies in this area.
Among the main areas that the Action Plan touches, the two housing relevant are Access to basic services and active participation and social inclusion.
1. Access to basic services
The European Commission mentions adequate and affordable housing and health services which helps to start a life in the society of the receiving country.
As the Commission highlights, access to adequate and affordable housing is a basic condition for third-country nationals […] but it presents a major challenge in the context of the current inflows, as regards both the initial reception phase and finding long-term housing solutions that still provide adequate chances of employment.
The Commission supports Member States both in facing the immediate accommodation challenges related to the refugee crisis, and in providing funding for adequate and affordable social housing. The European Investment Bank can also provide support, such as finance for reception centres, temporary accommodation during the asylum application phase, and longer-term social housing for third-country nationals granted asylum.
The European Investment Bank is also financing the costs of additional education and social support for refugees in conjunction with accommodation investments
Also, the European Network on Integration and the Partnerships under the Urban Agenda will facilitate the exchange of experience and best practices on the urban dimension of diversity and immigration.
The actions of the Commission:
- Promoting the use of EU funds for housing for third country nationals.
- Strengthening cooperation with the European Investment Bank, providing funding for temporary accommodation for newly arrived third country nationals and social housing.
- Promoting peer learning exchanges between Member States and cities in the form of study visits, peer reviews and sharing of best practices on how to address housing challenges, including ghettoisation.
- Supporting best practices in care provision for vulnerable third country nationals and refugees.
In the meantime, the Commission encourages Member States to ensure an integrated approach, coordinating policies on housing with equitable access to employment, healthcare and social services.Read More
2. Active participation and social inclusion
A link to housing can be found especially in actions such as the launch of projects to promote intercultural dialogue, social inclusion; promote migrants' participation in cultural life etc.
The Commission will develop handbooks for practitioners on intercultural dialogue; active participation of third country nationals in political, social and cultural life and sports in the host societies.
It will also launch projects aiming at preventing and combating discrimination, gender-based violence, racism and xenophobia, including hate crime and hate speech, and fostering better understanding between communities, including religious communities.
The Member States are encouraged to fully implement legislation on combating racism and xenophobia and enforce equal treatment and anti-discrimination legislation.
The Commission aims to strengthen EU financial support to Member States for the integration of third country nationals under the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund in the context of the 2017 draft budget.
Timeline of foreseen actions:
- Promote the use of EU funds for reception, education, and housing-2016-2017
- Strengthen cooperation with the European Investment Bank-2016-2017
- Promote peer learning among Member States on how to address housing challenges-2017
- Develop handbooks and toolboxes for practitioners-2016-2017
- Fund projects promoting social inclusion and combating racism 2016-2017
Why is the Action Plan launched now?
The Plan is part of the set of actions announced in the Commission's Communication of 6 April 2016, and represents the Commission's commitment to step up EU efforts for integration.
Measures included in the New Skills Agenda for Europe which will be presented soon are also relevant for third-country nationals and will support their integration.