Refugees are an opportunity for our society, not just a challenge say S&Ds
The European Parliament has today called on the EU to take action and ensure refugees are swiftly and fully integrated into the labour market and society.
In a resolution drafted by S&D Euro MP Brando Benifei, the Parliament set out recommendations for action at EU level, including an increase in resources for social policy in Europe via the European Social Fund (ESF) to facilitate the integration of refugees in European countries.
Following the vote, Brando Benifei said:
"Welcoming refugees should be seen as an opportunity, not just as a challenge for both the refugees and our society. Integrating them into the labour market is important to restore their human dignity and self-worth, but it is also cost-effective for the public as it allows them to gain economic independence and become active members of our society.
"The European Union and its member states must update their legislative toolkit in order to be ready for this challenge. Integrating refugees can be turned into an opportunity for our society if properly handled. We need to ensure they get swift access to the labour market. Fully integrating refugees into the labour market and our societies will allow refugees to recover their economic independence and their dignity.
"Many of them have qualifications and skills. Their access to the labour market must respect the principles of equal treatment and non-discrimination in order to avoid undeclared work and all forms of exploitation. With high levels of unemployment in the EU after years of economic crisis, we also must avoid creating competition on the labour markets among the most vulnerable groups. That is why we are calling for an increase in the financial resources of the European Social Fund.
"The integration and inclusion measures aimed at refugees and asylum seekers should not draw on financial resources already destined for programmes targeting other disadvantaged groups.
"The data shows that there is a strict direct connection between labour market conditions within the countries of arrival and the success rate of social inclusion and integration policies targeting refugees. Therefore, it is necessary to continue prioritising policies aimed at economic growth and job creation for the whole of society, and providing continued and unchanged support for disadvantaged groups."
S&D Group spokesperson on employment and social affairs, Jutta Steinruck MEP added:
"The Socialists and Democrats strongly reject the idea of creating a special labour market for refugees. Therefore national minimum wages must remain valid for refugees in order to avoid further social dumping and competition between the most disadvantaged groups in our societies.”
S&D Group spokesperson on this issue in the committee on culture and education Silvia Costa stressed:
"Education and training are key to allow refugees access to the job market properly and effectively. It is fundamental that we guarantee all refugees – especially girls and women – access to formal, informal and non-formal education, as well as to life-long learning associated with professional experience. Similarly, it is necessary to put in place rigorous and transparent procedures for recognising skills and qualifications obtained abroad, outside the European Union.
"We reiterate the plea from the European Parliament’s culture and education committee for the EU and member states to establish 'educational corridors', encouraging the promotion of agreements between European universities and the Mediterranean Universities Union (UNIMED) to host refugee students coming from conflict areas. This can facilitate their integration into the job market and their inclusion in civil society, following on from the positive examples already set by many European universities."