Gap Analysis in book-format

Political Frameworks

In Germany and Austria the demographic development is going to increase the need for skilled human resources. This makes such projects as the examined ones strongly necessary not only for the inclusion of migrants but also for the economy in these countries. As long as projects receive public resources, these resources are usually embedded into funding programmes and grant schemes on regional or national levels.

Some of the general national challenges, at least in Germany, turn into specific regional challenges; for example Berlin as a city of huge immigration from all over the world faces specific challenges as the immigrants who are already living in Berlin must be integrated into the society, and well trained people from abroad have to be addressed and invited to come and stay in Berlin as the city needs highly qualified staff.

Like in other regions and municipalities in Berlin there exists a concept on integration, which issued certain strategies, like “cultural diversity and international attraction”, “participation on labour market” and "integration through education, intercultural opening and participation in civil society”. 18 When these strategies turn into projects it becomes obvious that the political framework conditions strongly influence the operation of the projects in a positive way; for instance in one of the projects (DE1) the positive attitude of the management personnel of the cooperating public service agencies was due to this political environment. The fact that another German project has been operated in Berlin as well (DE3), highlights that the political framework conditions in this city not only influenced the project but was the origin of the project, as Berlin was committed via political statements to an increase in numbers of migrants in public services up to a figure that is equivalent to their statistical representation in the population.

One project from Germany (DE1) was clearly dedicated to the integration policies of Berlin as the integration office of Berlin had announced to raise the number of people with a migrant background in municipal services. As the status as immigrant is hiding huge differences in living conditions and perspectives, some of these groups have unlimited access to labour market and political life while others are only tolerated. Some of the general national challenges turn in Berlin into specific regional challenges. Immigrants who are living in Berlin must be integrated into the society, and the well trained immigrants should be addressed to come to Berlin and stay in Berlin as the city needs highly qualified staff.

In the “Integration concept Berlin” from 2007 there were issued these strategies and actions:

  • Cultural diversity and international attraction.
  • Participation on labour market.
  • Integration through education, intercultural opening and participation in civil society.

Along with additional federal policies and initiatives like the association “Berufliches Bildungsnetzwerk Berlin e.V.” (BQN; Network for Vocational Training) these political framework conditions strongly influenced the operation of the project in a positive way. This may have influenced the positive attitude of the management personnel of the cooperating partners from work and labour (health care organisations), too.

But not only in big cities like Berlin the political framework influences practice on a project level. Another project from Germany (DE2) was conducted in a rural area, a totally opposite environment. This project shows as well that in terms of politics the paradigm shifts in federal policies regarding refugees favoured the operation of the project.

The opposite is reported from two Italian projects (IT1/ IT2), where in the opinion of the interviewees politicians “do not care” about migrant workers and migrants are of “no interest to Italian politicians”. So these small scale projects only had positive effects on the target groups but not that much on stakeholders from policy.

European countries are increasingly recognising that integration of immigrants takes place largely at the local level, and most governments are increasingly supporting the development of local integration strategies. The importance of language learning has been largely accepted by many countries, though there is no common European approach. Many countries are experimenting with civic integration courses for immigrants to allow them to become proficient in the country’s language. In additon they are delivering educational programmes on the country’s customs and values. 19

Nonetheless, opposite tendencies are becoming apparent as well; for example, in recent years governments in the Netherlands and Britain have cut back the provision of language tuition for migrants. 20

Dutch integration policy is based on the long-term objective of ensuring that the performance of all key
groups in various domains (e.g. the labour market, education and housing), is proportionate to their share of
the total Dutch population. Dealing with the overrepresentation of minorities in unemployment figures
has been a particular focus in recent years. “However, the focus of policy changed dramatically in 2004 following the murder of Dutch film producer Theo van Gogh, an event which revealed the extent of tensions about the perceived incompatibility of Muslim migrants (particularly those of Moroccan origin) and secular Dutch culture. The rise of the anti-Islam Party for Freedom (Partij voor de Vrijheid) gave a political voice to those concerned and angry about the influence of Islam in Dutch society.” 21

Today, Dutch integration policies make the right to settle in the Netherlands highly conditional on a number of tests, including language proficiency and other civic integration requirements. The country has also been
redirecting efforts towards mainstreaming integration programmes.

The United Kingdom has implemented some of the most progressive measures for legal protection for minority communities in Europe, from the Race Relations Act of 1965, to recent legislation aimed at ensuring fair access to education, the labour market and housing for all minorities. In the late-1960s, Britain’s approach was broadly understood as a multiculturalist one, focused on the promotion of minority cultural identity. British immigration regulations have become more restrictive since the 1970s, coupled with an increasingly negative public discourse on immigration and integration. “In recent years a critique of multiculturalism has emerged, which culminated with a key Prime Ministerial speech in February 2011 declaring that state multiculturalism had failed.” 22

In France, the State is responsible for migrants at the departmental level for minors. Competences are shared between the different levels of governance; the State is responsible for detailing policies, which will be implemented by the other levels of governance. The departmental level is then responsible for minors. To this extent, they establish how to implement national social policies and they develop their own legal instruments to accomplish to this task. Furthermore, they finance social policies for unaccompanied minors and therefore they finance the structures that offer services to unaccompanied minors.

Unaccompanied minors are defined as “separated children under 18 years of age, outside their country of
origin and separated from both parents or their previous legal, or customary primary caregiver. Some children are totally alone while othersmay be living with extended family members who are not necessarily their customary or primary caregivers. All such children are separated children and entitled to international protection under a broad range of international and regional instruments. While some separated children are ‘accompanied’ when they arrive in Europe, the accompanying adult(s) may not necessarily be able, or suitable, to assume responsibility for their care.” 23