Europe faces migrations since the very beginning of history. Through time, migrations were motivated by different reasons: from the forced displacements to the migration of workers that has grown beyond exchanges of workforce of the East and West of Europe. However, the fact remains that, regardless of motivation, migration to and within Europe has grown in proportion, intensity and scope.
Integration has been an issue that sparked different approaches since the very start of migrations. Lack of integration has been a source of social injustice in our societies and the social exclusion of individuals or groups. Therefore, migrants and refugees must have the possibility to integrate in their new host societies, especially since through successful integration migrants are able to contribute to the economic and social progress of their host and countries of origin.
The Council of Europe has worked for social cohesion and pluralist societies since its creation having achieved milestones such as the European Social Charter or the Development Bank. Other multilateral institutions are taking note of integration, one example being the European Union that has adopted an action plan for integration in order to promote social justice and inclusion, as well as to reap the benefits that integration provides.
Although integration and inclusion of migrants and refugees remain in the focus of most member States and their approaches have yielded different results, it is worrying that populism that has risen in Europe in recent years has been focusing on this subject as well, thus causing a polarisation and further division of our societies, often calling for ghettoisation and/or expulsion of migrants altogether.
Accordingly, the Parliamentary Assembly should look into national policies for integration of migrants and refugees and recommend, based on our shared values and standards, ways forward for regarding migration as an opportunity rather than a threat.