B Explanatory memorandum
by Mr Pierre-Yves Le Borgn’, rapporteur
scope and objectives of the report
1 In line with the motion for
a resolution, the present report emphasises that “communities living
abroad are an asset for Europe, the host countries and the countries
of origins. They make for valuable economic and human contacts and
form vital bridges between Europe’s cultures and between them and
the rest of the world. While communities living abroad rarely enjoy
political representation, they are often organised in powerful voluntary
associations which are particularly active in the field of education
and culture. These offer a social framework through which migrants
can find ways of integrating in their countries of residence, while
retaining ties with their countries of origin.”
2 It was therefore proposed in the motion for a resolution to
“consider the practical measures which could be taken at national
and/or European level to support these voluntary educational and
cultural networks and draw more effectively on their contribution
to intercultural dialogue and social harmony”.
In this report, I pursue the important work undertaken by
our colleague Mr Carlos Costa Neves in his report on “Identities
and diversity within intercultural societies” (Resolution 2005 (2014)
and Recommendation 2049
). The present report also ties in with the Council of
Europe activities to promote intercultural skills and to devise
policies and instruments in the diversity fieldNote
and with the long-standing work
of the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons related
to migrant diasporas.Note
4 I seek to complement this most useful work by looking at diaspora
communities from a cultural perspective. I explore, in particular,
how the voluntary-sector and cultural networks of the communities
of Europeans living abroad can help people enjoy, preserve and transmit
their culture – for example build up a sense of community – and
at the same time become well integrated in their country of residence
– for example promote inclusion, involvement in public and social
life and democratic citizenship.
5 It is important for the purposes of this report to distinguish
between first generation migrants who have recently arrived in Europe
and the more consolidated “diaspora” population, which may include
first, second, third and even fourth generations.
The concept of “diaspora” is relatively vague. Diasporas are
generally dispersed, diffuse, unrepresented and largely invisible.
According to the OECD publication “Connecting with emigrants: a
global profile of diasporas”, the term covers (in theory) all people
who maintain some form of attachment to a specific country of origin
in relation to their migration background. I would also like to
recall the definition of diaspora given by Professor Gerard-François
Dumont (which was also retained in the Parliamentary Assembly report
on “Democratic participation of migrant diasporas” (Doc. 13648
)), describing it as “a community of individuals living
together on the same territory and having in common the conviction
or belief of belonging, themselves or their families, to another
territory with which they maintain regular relations”. These people
can be migrants themselves or the children or grand-children of
migrants. Some of them have the citizenship of the country in question;
others have multiple nationalities or only the citizenship of their
country of residence. In practice, because of data limitations,
quantitative analysis on diaspora is today limited and usually restricted
to the first generation of migrants.
7 Statistics remain scarce for the 47 member States of the Council
of Europe, but available data for the countries of the European
Union show that about 17.9 million European Union citizens live
in another EU country, representing around 3% of the total population.
Some 15% of marriages in the European Union are mixed marriages.
In Switzerland for example, approximately 30% of newborn children
have double nationality.
8 In the context of globalisation and greater mobility among
European citizens, the notion of diaspora with a permanent place
of residence may no longer prevail like it did in the 20th century;
for many people (often with a higher level of education and skill),
living abroad may mean a temporary residence, moving across countries in
pursuit of international studies, jobs and careers, or suitable
places for retirement. However, the more “traditional” forms of
diaspora communities are also persisting, if not expanding, but
their expectations are changing, as maintaining ties with the countries
of origin has become much easier as a result of rapidly advancing
and widely available information and communication technologies
and low-cost travel.
9 Notwithstanding such positive changes, I believe that in most
European countries the important role of voluntary-sector and cultural
networks of diaspora communities in building up a sense of community
and bridging different cultures is not sufficiently understood,
recognised and mobilised. Particularly in the context of developing
national and local strategies aimed at improving social cohesion
and the spirit of “living together”, there is very little research
at national and European level, to assess the cultural and social
impact of diaspora communities on local societies. And yet this
is becoming an urgent political priority for most European countries,
as tensions, incomprehension and insecurity grow in society. Regrettably,
these anxieties further deepen the divide between communities along
their linguistic, cultural or religious differences.
2 Integration of diaspora communities
in the country of residence
Integration of diaspora communities
in the country of residence is an important political issue at the
core of the work of the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced
Persons. From the perspective of political rights, this Committee
underlined the need for greater political participation of migrants
as a way of increasing their capacity to promote and transfer democratic
values, and recommended that member States elaborate migration policies
which promote an institutional role for diasporas. This is something
I wholeheartedly welcome as a member of parliament representing
my French compatriots living overseas. For example, in his latest
report adopted in March 2015 (Doc. 13648
), Mr Rigoni dealt with democratic participation and
voting rights of migrant diasporas.
11 I therefore wish to take a different angle in my report, looking
at how could public authorities in the country of residence (at
local, regional and national level) can improve their integration
policies through closer co-operation with educational and cultural
networks of diaspora communities residing in the country. Voluntary associations
represent an important point of reference for communities, thanks
to their less bureaucratic and more informal nature.
12 I believe that closer and more institutionalised co-operation
with voluntary organisations of diaspora communities would enable
public authorities to reach more widely the first and second generation
of immigrants and also in a more direct way – one which would create
a basis for building long-term relationships and trust. Moreover,
I would argue that public authorities need to actively include diaspora
organisations not only in the implementation, but also in the framing
and functions of diaspora organisations
Before looking more closely
at possible areas of co-operation, let me recall the main components
of the integration process from the perspective of an individual.
It consists of structural integration (acquisition of rights, access
to jobs, education and housing); cultural integration (acquiring
the core elements and competences of the culture of host society);
social integration (building relations) and identification (feeling
organisations tend to support and promote integration in all these
areas while at the same time nurturing bonds with the country of
14 However, approaches and goals of diaspora associations are
not static and they change over time. They follow the dynamics of
integration in the country of residence and changes in their relations
with the country of origin. When the settlement of diaspora community
is a recent phenomenon and most migrants are first generation, organisations
aim to satisfy primary needs and priorities. As the community becomes
integrated in the country of residence, needs and priorities change;
thus also the roles and the structures of organisations change.
15 In addition, the way in which organisations and networks actually
contribute to building integration and social relations across borders
can significantly diverge between diaspora groups depending on their
history, political or cultural approach, and people’s individual
characteristics and self-perception.
16 Counselling and assistance activities, as well as mediation
with public authorities, are particularly relevant for those who
have recently arrived. Voluntary organisations, due to their informal
structure, are easier to reach than embassies and consulates and
frequently serve as initial points of contact. They provide useful information
and carry out networking activities. They are important not only
for connecting individuals, but also for strengthening community
bonds. Today, websites and social media provide additional information
and networking tools.
Rombel, an association of Romanians in Belgium,Note
launched in 2009 an 120-page orientation
“Guide for Romanians in Belgium”, as a very useful tool to help
the integration of expatriates, while also maintaining cultural
links with Romania. The online guide has 80 000 downloads and 5 000
printed samples were distributed. The association provides a website
platform on all aspects of social life in Belgium and promotes networking
to involve small isolated communities of expats. There are 120 000
visitors per year.
Albinfo, Actualités des Albanophones en Suisse,Note
established in 2009 as a trilingual
website, defines itself as a “service and news platform”. The website
reached 1 055 109 visits in May 2015, having a strong impact both
in Switzerland and in the Balkan media. Services include: putting
expatriates in contact with authorities and companies; uploading
a database of associations, companies and services; answering a
vast number of personal enquiries; etc. Albinfo co-operates with
three Swiss federal institutions in charge of migration: the Federal
Department of Justice and Police – Secretary of Migration, the Swiss
Agency for Development and Cooperation and the Federal Commission
for Migration Issues. The association promotes the integration of
migrants in Switzerland, based on the assumption that identity is
not exclusive and that the media have a relevant role in influencing
a change in identity. Albinfo tries to facilitate communication
between the “two realities” of migrants (country of residence and
country of origin). It also co-operates with other communities of
expatriates and regularly organises conferences,Note
the aim of embedding diaspora communities in the political discussion
in the country of residence.
authorities: policy approaches to integration
19 From the perspective of many
States, integration has been traditionally conceived in terms of assimilation,
which leads to a progressive loss of links with the country of origin,
or pluralism, which allows for a coexistence of different collective
identities in the same society, where no change in identity and
cultural belonging is required. Today, policy approaches in most
European countries are evolving by seeking to deal with new forms
of mobility and the explosion of migration flows. The challenge
is to build social cohesion on the basis of cultural diversity and
positive interaction between people with different and often multiple
cultural affiliations. It does not run counter to bonding with the
country of origin.
20 Depending on the structure of the State, the issue of integration
of immigrant communities may be the competence of the State (centralised
States) or of regional or local authorities (decentralised States).
In France for example, the role of national institutions is predominant.
In other countries, like Italy, policies related to integration
of immigrants are largely administered by local and regional authorities.
Also, local institutions can more easily co-operate with diaspora
organisations and networks, as most of them are active at local
of co-operation between public authorities and diaspora organisations
advisory councils in Italy
21 Town councils of foreign citizens
have been created in many Italian cities in order to provide an institutional
form of representation for foreigners who do not have the right
to vote. Immigrant councils are advisory bodies, with members who
are directly elected by foreign residents or nominated among representatives
of diaspora organisations.
22 Such advisory councils are intended, in particular: 1) to
empower non-European Union citizens by giving them a voice; 2) to
promote and support the activities of diaspora organisations; 3)
to encourage initiatives and projects aimed at integration of foreign
citizens, and to remove every form of discrimination; 4) to build
a bridge between local institutions and diaspora communities; 5)
to recollect and discuss problems and needs of foreign citizens
and to include them in the policy-making process on issues such
as employment, health, housing, schools, public transport, etc.
co-operation in Germany
23 In Germany, diaspora organisations
may contribute to integration on the national level by participating in
the integration summits organised in the Federal Chancellery and
by working together with the federal commissioner for integration
on the national integration strategy and the national integration
action plan. Most German federal States, especially those with a
high proportion of migrants, regularly consult diaspora organisations.
For instance they invite them to annual integration conferences
(North Rhine-Westphalia, Hessen, Saarland) and include them in the
policy-making process. The means through which migrant associations
can influence policy and decision making is not always specified.
Larger States offer specific (financial) support programmes for
diaspora organisations (for example North Rhine-Westphalia), others
try to integrate them in regular funding schemes (for example Hessen).
However, not every federal State is able to provide funding due
to legal issues and financial shortcomings (for example Schleswig-Holstein).
Most integration commissioners of the German Länder as well as local
authorities and integration centres work closely together with diaspora
associations though their co-operation is not institutionalised.
24 The initiative of the Ministry for Integration in Saarland
can be considered as an example of good practice in the German context,
as it represents an attempt to institutionalise co-operation with
diaspora organisations. The ministry prepared a “Declaration on
the Integration Policy in Saarland” which has been signed by diaspora associations,
religious institutions, chambers of commerce, charities and local
councils. The minister regularly consults and visits voluntary organisations
in order to demonstrate presence and explain the Land integration policy
and its support programmes, also encouraging associations to network
between themselves. Most associations are open and support an intercultural
approach. The role of the Land Minister is crucial to alleviate the
risk that migrant associations isolate themselves by keeping to
their own ethnic minority, by encouraging them to see themselves
as a bridge between diaspora and the majority population.
25 Since the change in German migration policies in the late
1990s, a shift can be observed from isolated and closed diaspora
communities to well-integrated organisations seeking dialogue and
interaction. Many associations have expanded their activities to
cover integration projects, founded larger umbrella organisations and
sought co-operation with the authorities and institutions.
26 The Swiss model of co-operation
with diaspora organisations is highly institutionalised. The Swiss Confederation
takes an interministerial transversal approach, based on well-integrated
co-ordination between the Federal Department of Justice and Police,
which deals with integration, and the Federal Department of Foreign
Affairs, which deals with migration inflows by supporting projects
in countries of origin. Co-operation is also established with other
departments responsible for specific aspects of integration (for
example the Cultural Department, the Department of Health).
27 Transversal and strategic co-operation is also reflected in
the funding of diaspora organisations. Projects are not merely submitted
for funding but are negotiated together with the respective public
authorities in order to ensure a positive outcome of the project
for the whole of society. Diaspora associations approach public authorities
with their ideas, so that they may elaborate a concrete plan together,
harmonising their expectations with the general integration strategies
An example of good practice, the GGG Ausländerberatung (Foreign
Consultant Agency) of BaselNote
provides information, consulting
and mediation in 15 languages about various legal and social issues
and helps individuals to contact public authorities, institutions
and employers. The issues may include: employment, residence permit,
citizenship, insurance, housing, rent and questions concerning taxes,
financial matters, family issues, education, health, etc. The GGG
Ausländerberatung Basel also regularly holds information seminars
directly in the premises of diaspora associations.
29 The GGG Ausländerberatung also supports the co-ordination
of practices in different countries. For example, a platform was
created to exchange best practices, ideas and inspiration. Co-operation
is not only established between diaspora organisations but also
with local/native organisations that are involved in exchange projects
with border countries (Germany and France).
and transmitting cultural identity of the country of origin
we do not give young immigrants a homeland ..., they will create
an imaginary one in their own minds. Fundamentalism and fanaticism
will do the rest: exclusion often leads to crime and, sometimes,
to terrorism.” Michel Rocard
30 While, on the one hand, the
presence of communities of different origins raises the difficult
issue of integration in the countries of residence, on the other,
for different personal, political or historic reasons, many expatriates
may experience difficulty in preserving their cultural and linguistic
ties with the country of origin, and they may struggle to transmit
them to the next generations. These are interconnected issues as
the integration process very much depends on the ability to structure
one’s own identity. I believe that nurturing the plural identity
and cultural ties with the country of origin does not imply denying
integration into the life of the country of residence; on the contrary,
it strengthens the (plural) identity of each individual and gives
a solid basis for successful integration.
and third generations
31 The needs of second and third
generations deeply differ from the needs of first generations. The challenge
is how to conciliate full integration in the country where they
are born and grew up with the preservation of ties with the country
of origin of their parents or grandparents, achieving a fine balance
between two cultures and, in certain cases, several cultures.
The second generation can be defined as children born to immigrants
or born in the country of origin and brought to the country of residence
before the age of six.Note
They can preserve the culture
and the language dear to their parents while at the same time integrating
into and bonding with the country of residence, which is their home
country. The question where to place the “home country” seems to
be at the core of the problem, particularly if the “host society”
is not sufficiently open to fully embracing the second and third
generations as equal citizens.
33 Their integration represents a big challenge and a change
for European societies. However, integration is not always successful
and problems of marginalisation and exclusion are increasing in
many European countries. Weak identification both with the host
society and with the diaspora community creates a sense of alienation
among second and third generations, particularly for young people
in quest of identity and belonging, who can be easily attracted
to fundamentalism, extremism and racism.
34 The search for strong identities leads many to embrace imaginary
identities, using references to the past and to common roots that
are distorted. In need of belonging, they focus on difference, drawing
borders and separating themselves from mainstream society. Such
deep malaise and segregation can easily spark cultural clashes.
together: the perspective of composite or hybrid identities
35 The role of diaspora organisations
and networks is therefore crucial to positively promoting the perspective
of composite or hybrid identities and overcoming the prevalence
of a nostalgic, or even regressive, approach to the identity and
values of the country of origin. The construction of meaning and
value by individuals is largely shaped by the cultural codes they
share with the groups they belong to. Open and forward- looking
diaspora organisations can play a key role in nurturing “composite
identities”, no longer restricted to predefined collective identities
related to particular ethnic and religious groups.
36 Many diaspora organisations work with second and third generations,
focusing on community and networking, cultural activities, education
and language tuition.
37 The association “A ta Turquie” is a good example of a small
independent association with limited resources, which succeeds in
promoting encounters between Turkish and French cultures and values,
building common ground. The association was founded in France in
1989 with the objective to promote Turkish culture for a wider public
as well as for young people of Turkish origin. Secularism is the
most important trait of the organisation, which demands an absolutely
neutral stance towards Turkey and on political, religious and ethnic issues.
The association differs from other Turkish organisations, as most
people of Turkish origin tend to look for organisations with a clear
political and/or religious stand.
The association aims to spread knowledge about Turkey (overcoming
stereotypes) and to encourage and value the artistic and literary
production of talented young migrants. It edits a bilingual bimonthly
manages a website,Note
where general news and information
on projects and upcoming events are regularly published. The association
also carries out research on the Turkish community in France and
in Europe focusing on integration. One of the most important projects
undertaken by the association was a research project on mediation
activities to be put in place for the Turkish diaspora community.
39 In Germany today, the Turkish people prefer to define themselves
as German ethnic minorities, rather than immigrants or diaspora.
The main goal of their voluntary organisations is to act as a bridge
between Germany and Turkey, and to create a positive bicultural
identity by establishing a close social link with the country of
residence without losing the connection with the country of origin
and its culture. In this respect, they adopt an open transnational
approach, arguing in favour of multi-layered, inclusive identities
as opposed to the traditional concept of integration.
schools and multilingualism
40 Multilingualism is an asset,
both for individuals and for society. I believe that countries of
residence can only get culturally and economically enriched by the
spread of multilingualism. Diaspora associations play an important
part in informal language tuition for second and third generations.
However, they generally lack institutional support, funding and
in some cases adequate professional skills for language tuition.
41 “Saturday Schools” is an umbrella organisation created in
1990 in the United Kingdom. The main goal of the 22 Saturday Schools
is to teach German children of German background living in the United
Kingdom. The teaching of German is important for them, as children
of German families living in the United Kingdom are much less exposed
to German at home and they would lose their language skills without
special tuition. The schools mainly rely on volunteers, even though
they receive support from the German Embassy and the Goethe Institute.
Due to lack of regular funding, they are not sustainable and are
subject to frequent opening and closure. This informal umbrella
organisation makes up for the fact that Germany has not implemented
in the United Kingdom a stringent policy to spread the German language
and provide language education for expatriates.
42 By contrast, in the United Kingdom, countries with a history
of emigration tend to be more prone to invest in language tuition,
as they expect that their expatriates will return. Portuguese and
Spanish children, for example, can get free language tuition in
many schools in London for a certain number of hours, thanks to
co-operation agreements between institutions and diaspora organisations.
43 I believe that native language tuition provided through diaspora
organisations could work in a more institutionalised way within
the mainstream education system. If the promotion of bilingualism
and multilingualism is a shared objective, the implementation cannot
be assigned only to diaspora organisations, but requires an active
involvement of State institutions. Stronger partnerships should
be built between institutions of the country of residence (government,
school administration), embassies or other institutions of the country
of origin (cultural or linguistic centres) and diaspora organisations
in order to fund teachers, educational materials and adequate premises
for language tuition and to integrate it into the formal education system
(primary, secondary schools), involving also local/national children.
This would be an important step towards building multilingual societies
44 Native language tuition ought to be better supported and considered
not only a resource for diaspora communities but more generally
for Europe, as an extraordinary tool to achieve better conditions
for mutual understanding and living together. A consistent language
policy in Europe in terms of promoting and supporting community
languages, having access to appropriate language qualifications
and official acknowledgement of language skills (exams) could be
linked to the European framework of languages.
45 Bilingualism is a way of overcoming the presumption that there
is a trade-off between identification with the culture of the country
of residence and preserving the culture of the country of origin.
Instead, by actively encouraging bilingualism, and even multilingualism,
governments can help second and third generations to achieve a multiple
46 With the growing global economy,
trade and mobility, governments and institutions in emigration countries
are now taking greater interest in diaspora communities. They began
to adopt different tools to maintain the relationship with expatriates,
including dual citizenship. Support for integration in the receiving country
has increased as well, as evidenced by the presence and the role
of dedicated overarching ministries, agencies or ministerial departments.
47 In Turkey for example, the Prime Minister created Presidency
for Turks Abroad and Related Communities in 2010 as the umbrella
organisation in charge of co-ordinating Turkey’s complex structure
of institutional bodies dealing with the diaspora. Some countries
have introduced strategies and funds to ensure the institutional
representation of diaspora.
48 It is important to underline, however, that many diaspora
associations wish to preserve their independence and do not accept
to depend or to be associated with government-led institutions in
the country of origin as they fear political interference. Such
dissociation seems more apparent in cases where the country of residence
and the country of origin differ substantially in their cultural,
religious or political history. It is important to acknowledge here
that modern expatriate communities are hybrids; they look to their
origins while also looking forward. Therefore they are not citizens
who can be “governed” as an extra-territorial extension of the national
population. On the contrary, they consist of civil societies and
associations with multiple cultural affiliations to sustain, and
for this reason they require special forms of partnership to maintain
the feeling of trust and confidence.
49 In this context, the Organisation of the Swiss Abroad offers,
in my view, a good example. This organisation has been representing
the interests of Swiss nationals living abroad for almost 100 years. Although
politically independent and neutral, it has close links with the
State. The organisation is first and foremost an advisory body,
with the ability to issue resolutions, guidelines and opinions.
Its secretariat (25 staff) has regular contacts with umbrella organisations
in the countries of residence and undertakes four main tasks: to
inform (mainly via a magazine which comes out six times a year and
a newsletter); to advise Swiss nationals living abroad and bring
them together; to develop a programme for young people abroad (by
offering them activities in their country of origin as well as educational
guidance); and to engage in lobbying representing the interests
of Swiss abroad. The main challenge for the organisation is to show
that the Swiss living abroad are a potential asset for Switzerland.
The magazine “Swiss Review” informs Swiss nationals living
abroad about the current themes in their home country and provides
specific information on votes and elections. The Swiss Review also
periodically contains regional pages that aggregate information
related to specific countries or groups of countries and it is published
in four languages: French, German, English and Spanish. Once a year,
the organisation holds a convention that brings together approximately
400 participants around a topic that interests them and government
representatives in countries of residence. Since 2010, the OSE has
set up a social network,Note
which now has over 30 000 members.
51 The organisation implements specific projects for young people,
from leisure activities to training. It also gives youth the opportunity
to participate in the federal parliament and to attend a seminar
week dedicated to the theme of the Congress of the Swiss Abroad.
The OSE has close ties with “educationsuisse” to support Swiss young
people living abroad who wish to study in Switzerland.
52 The OSA is recognised as the official voice for the Swiss
abroad. The organisation lobbies in parliament and exerts influence
on legislation, through the Council of the Swiss Abroad, which has
120 delegates and 20 diaspora members living in Switzerland. Another
point of reference is the parliamentary intergroup “Swiss abroad”,
bringing together 100 federal parliamentarians with an interest
in issues of the Swiss abroad.
centres as spaces for inter-cultural encounters
53 Cultural centres can also play
a strategic role in promoting intercultural dialogue, integration, multilingualism
and pluri-culturalism, associating diaspora organisations in a less
bureaucratic way. Cultural centres such as the Goethe Institute,
the Dante Alighieri Institute, the Institut français and the British
Council were created at the end of the 19th century to preserve
and promote the national language, identity and culture of citizens
living abroad, especially in the colonies. In the 20th century,
the focus shifted from cultural imperialism to cultural diplomacy.
Today, cultural centres pursue various other goals, besides
promoting national culture abroad. Among these, expanding the use
of their language and retaining links with diasporas. They have
the potential to become spaces of intercultural encounters, holding
activities that involve both diaspora and citizens of the host country.
Such activities can help diaspora to be visible and recognised by
the host society, providing them with opportunities to introduce
and value the culture of their country of origin and to creatively
interact with other cultures.Note
55 Let me draw on the conclusion
made by Mr Costa Neves in his report on “Identities and diversity
within intercultural societies” that cultural diversity is becoming
an essential condition for human society, brought about not only
by increased mobility and cross-border migration, but also by the
cultural effects of globalisation. As a result, new generations
with multiple cultural references and composite identities will
inevitably prevail in most European societies in the future, no
longer restricted to homogeneous collective identity. This scenario
is not that of multicultural societies, where collective identities
coexist, but that of composite or hybrid identities, where diversity
coexists inside individuals.
56 I share a strong conviction with Mr Costa Neves that this
deep societal change urgently requires a rethinking of the processes,
mechanisms and relationships that are needed to counter racism and
intolerance and strengthen pluralism and democracy in Europe.
recognition: diaspora as a bridge between cultures
57 In this respect, the first
and particularly the second, third and fourth generations of diaspora
populations – who carry within them different cultural references
– can act decisively as leading actors of cultural change. They
represent not only a bridge between cultures, but they can enrich
society further by synthesising new ones. However, in order to act
positively they need support and due recognition. At political level,
we need to value the role of different cultures in the building
of national identities and of a European identity. These identities
are today evolving and ought to positively feature diversity, pluralism
and respect for human rights and dignity.
issue of funding, sustainability and resilience
58 The role of diaspora associations
and networks in bridging cultures and building a cohesive society (living
together) is still not adequately understood, recognised and encouraged.
59 Most organisations are based on voluntary work, strong enthusiasm
and the commitment of a few individuals. While they actively seek
co-operation, they generally lack adequate structures, sufficient
and sustainable funding and human resources. Despite the fact that
they are increasingly entrusted with important tasks related to
integration, education and culture, most associations desperately
lack financial support and struggle to “survive”. Some have even
ceased to exist.
60 Many are forced to spend long hours competing for basic funding
and promoting their projects. As a consequence, it is difficult
for them to strike the right balance between time spent on concrete
project work and advocacy. Because of important cuts in public expenditure
in most European countries, they increasingly depend on international
funding with cumbersome procedures and requirements that are often
perceived as too complex and time consuming. Smaller associations
complain about lack of information on European Union support programmes
and funding schemes or other supranational institutions and indicate
that they are discouraged by bureaucratic procedures.
61 I believe that within national and local strategies for integration,
public authorities should provide adequate financial support programmes
for diaspora associations in order to draw on this important resource and
reach diaspora communities more effectively. A more systematic form
of co-operation and funding would improve co-operation between associations,
helping them to professionalise their activities, prevent fragmentation
and better structure joint initiatives and events.
between diaspora organisations and public authorities
62 Local authorities are often
the main partners for diaspora associations. However, in most cases
this partnership remains informal. In order to make them sustainable
and effective in the long term, I believe that these partnerships
ought to have a more institutionalised form. This could be achieved,
for example, by setting up advisory councils and by electing representatives
of diasporas to local councils.
63 There is widespread consensus among representatives of diaspora
organisations on the need to strengthen the role of public authorities
in valuing and supporting their activities and in promoting integration policies
through closer co-operation with educational and cultural networks
of different communities.
64 Diaspora organisations could play an important role of mediators
between diaspora communities and public authorities. The creation
of a public interface, a platform for exchange between public authorities
and diaspora associations, would provide a point of reference and
make these partnerships more structured, more transparent and more
efficient. Such platforms would at the same time create an opportunity
for building synergies between different diaspora communities locally.
65 Likewise, a public interface (platform) could be established
nationally to allow the different ministries and specialised institutions
to work transversally and to facilitate the drafting and implementation
of national integration strategies through a permanent dialogue
with organisations that reflect the interests and opinions of different
diaspora communities in the country of residence. The issue, however,
is to address the problem of representativity, as diaspora associations
are very different with regard to political stands and value systems they
defend, and the topics they cover and the services they provide.
It is also important to avoid the risk of empowering organisations
which lack a real constituency and only reflect the personal opinions
and interests of a few.
66 With increased mobility, many countries in Europe are today
becoming both countries of immigration and emigration, having to
deal with integration of different diaspora communities residing
in the country and also maintaining links with expatriate communities
living abroad. They will increasingly need to co-ordinate many different
policies and initiatives to deepen integration nationally by opening
up a more systematic dialogue with diaspora communities and, at
the same time, helping second and third generations establish connections
with countries of origin of their parents which have the potential
to create opportunities and benefits for the country of residence.
67 Moreover, governments need to develop policies and partnerships
also with expatriate organisations. Electing representatives of
diaspora communities (with national or dual citizenship) to national
parliaments may represent a viable solution to give voice to these
communities living abroad. For example, in France, Croatia, Italy
and Portugal, the legislation provides for political representation
of citizens living abroad in national parliaments.
at European level
68 At the European level, the
concept of “diaspora” and “expatriates” ought to be fully integrated
into European policies. A possible solution could be the appointment
of commissioners in charge of relations with diaspora communities
at national and European level, following the example of the Swedish
Commissioner responsible for European expatriates.
69 A European platform for diaspora associations, committed to
co-ordination and exchange of best practices, could play a strategic
role. Several organisations state that regular contact among diaspora organisations
is particularly important, because they face similar issues and
questions. The annual conference of the Scandinavian umbrella organisations
for expatriates could serve as a model for a larger conference organised
at the European level.
70 Dialogue and co-operation should be further promoted by holding
meetings at national and European level and by regular exchange
through online platforms, easy to access and cost-effective, devoted
to sharing information, holding debates and the exchange of best
practices. Online platforms could contain general information on
funding and requirements of associations, material for cultural
programmes or case studies with experiences of specific diaspora
communities. The sharing of information and better communication
could also encourage different local diaspora communities to work
together, for instance by launching joint cross-national events
71 The Council of Europe could facilitate co-ordination and promote
the exchange of good practices in the cultural and educational fields.
I believe that the information provided at the level of the European
Union and the Council of Europe could help expatriates and other
citizens to know more about their rights and the opportunities offered
to them and promote a positive image of cultural diversity.
72 Facing tensions in society
and under pressure to react quickly, governments are today reviewing
their policies and making important political choices: whether to
strengthen integration and national identity? Or whether to build
social cohesion on the basis of cultural diversity and positive
interaction? As Mr Costa Neves already argued in his report on “Identities
and diversity within intercultural societies”, cultural diversity
is a social reality in most parts of Europe and therefore inevitable.
The question remains how to treat it positively. I share his belief
that in this new cultural era, we will need to innovate and multiply
the “laboratories for cultural exchange”, in order to nurture cultural
diversity and with time develop a European cultural space that will encourage
the creative expression of multiple cultural affiliations and identities.
73 Associating voluntary-sector and cultural networks of diaspora
communities in this process will be therefore vital. They play a
key role in providing support, solidarity and mutual assistance;
they provide a link to the culture of origin and an openness to
multiple cultural affiliations; they nurture multilingualism; they animate
cultural and community life; they provide cultural and educational
support to children and youth of the second and third generation;
they give added value to the “difference” of plural identities;
with social activities and cultural events they can open up to local
society, develop common projects and create opportunities for interaction.
74 However, beside many opportunities to bridge cultures, there
are also risks of segregation, nurturing the “old values” that have
not necessarily evolved with contemporary societies; risks of growing
extremism, fundamentalism and intolerance. The questions are therefore:
which type of policies in the field of culture, education and youth
should be developed at local, national and European level to ensure
that opportunities prevail over risks? And how to build synergies?
75 I believe that countries of residence will need to pool resources
to acquire more accurate quantitative and qualitative data on diaspora
communities (to get to know them better) to open up a dialogue with
them and to develop suitable mechanisms and partnerships to involve
diaspora communities in a more systematic and structured way. In
chapter 4, I have considered some practical measures which could
be taken at local, national and European level.
76 Likewise, countries of origin could also largely benefit from
stronger ties with expatriate communities that may generate closer
cultural, economic and political links with other countries and
having also the potential to contribute to socio-economic development
at home through investments, transfer of knowledge, new cultural models
and new skills. There is a growing importance of young people of
the second and third generation who have greater mobility, a dual
culture in particular with respect to language and who are ready
to connect with the countries of origin of their parents. However,
their involvement will hinge very much on economic, social and political
conditions in the country of origin, as well as on the type of partnership
and the extent of support that is provided to them.
77 Today, my own country France is under pressure to react quickly
to the terrorist massacres perpetrated in Paris on 13 November 2015.
Besides the issue of security and combating terrorism in the short
term, we need to look also at prevention in the long term. I strongly
believe that as a matter of political priority in France, but equally
throughout Europe, we need to engage in more concerted action, take
stock of existing integration policies and best practices, exchange
experience, pool resources and co-operate more intensively to build better
synergies with the voluntary sector of diaspora communities nationally,
bilaterally between countries of emigration and immigration, and
multilaterally at European level.