On 24 January 2018, European Commission released a toolkit to help Member States make the best use of EU funds for the integration of people with a migrant background, including children.
The toolkit aims to support national and regional authorities in designing and implementing local strategies and projects to integrate migrants through the use of EU resources in the current 2014-2020 budget period. The purpose of the toolkit is to reinforce synergies between different EU funds: the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF), the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF), the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the EU programme for employment and social innovation and more.
The toolkit builds on the existing EU legal and policy frameworks such as the European Commission Communication on the protection of children in migration (2017) and the lessons learnt from the Operational Programmes’ implementation. It identifies measures to promote the use of EU funds in five priority areas: reception; education; employment; housing; and access to public services. It lists the most pressing challenges under these five priorities and suggests adequate support actions, each one of them matched with the right EU fund.
According to Commissioner for Regional policy Corina Crețu, “The EU’s ambition is to turn the migration challenge into opportunities for our societies and economies. This toolkit is a brick in that wall; it will contribute to a successful integration of migrants at local level, supported by the EU and its resources.”
“There is lots of evidence about what works in relation to migrants integration,” said Jana Hainsworth, Secretary General of Eurochild and Opening Doors Campaign Director. “This toolkit from the European Commission is an important step towards making sure EU money is spent in the best possible way. Now the focus needs to be on ensuring it is used in Member States. Resources need to be (re-) directed towards projects that respect migrants dignity and individual needs. The EU will reap social and economic benefits in the long-term,” she added.
The Opening Doors for Europe’s Children campaign welcomes publication of the “Toolkit on the use of EU funds for the integration of people with a migrant background”. The toolkit reflects campaign’s concerns about institutionalisation of unaccompanied children and their long-term stay in the reception centres. More specifically, it recognises the fact that due to the lack of community- and family-based care, prolonged stay in the reception centres excludes unaccompanied children from the mainstream society. Furthermore, the long-term stay of unaccompanied children in the reception centres turns these facilities into residential institutions and creates serious risks for their protection and wellbeing. The toolkit specifies that the EU support “should contribute to placing unaccompanied children in family-based care, such as foster care”.
The role of effective guardianship is also highlighted in the toolkit. It says that in many Member States, guardians are not systematically assigned to all unaccompanied children or there may be extreme delays in their appointment. The systematic assignment of guardians upon identification should be a pre-requisite to help find a sustainable solution for the child in his or her best interest. The toolkit points to the use of AMIF that can support training, capacity building and networking for guardians and foster parents as well as social workers and educators. Funding under the AMIF can also support methodological development of psycho-social age assessments.
The toolkit on the use of EU funds for the integration of people with a migrant background acknowledges that measures, actions and projects designed by the funding authorities should be based on individual needs assessments, including the needs of children, which will lead to individualised solutions during their integration.
In addition, it recognises the role of civil society organisations and people with a migrant background (including children) in the design, implementation and monitoring of the EU funding measures.