Eurodiaconia attended the annual European Migration Forum, a joint initiative of the EESC and the European Commission, on October 27th and 28th.

The theme of this year’s event was From pandemic to recovery: challenges and best practices in migration management. As such, a common thread that was touched on in many speakers’ interventions was the important role migrants played as essential workers throughout the pandemic. However, it was also widely noted that migrants also suffered from the economic effects of the pandemic in many cases and were unable to access integration services and interact with their host community due to lockdowns.

Political speakers, including Ylva Johansson, European Commissioner for Home Affairs, spoke about the current crisis at EU external borders. She stressed that pushbacks should not be normalised or legalised and confirmed that increasing legal pathways for migrants are high on the Commission’s agenda. Christa Schweng, President of the European Economic and Social Committee denounced the calls of certain Member States to create stronger EU borders and physical walls, saying that migration is too often abused as a geopolitical weapon and asking for transparency and accessibility to the border for NGOs and journalists and to allow people to file asylum requests in line with EU and international law.

A highlight of the event was the breakout groups run by participants on a variety of topics. One group focused on cultural factors missing from labour market integration in policy and practice. Local authorities, civil society, and other stakeholders discussed the need to recognise how skills present differently across cultures. A solution towards recognising these skills is comprehensive skills assessment, cultural orientation and socio-professional orientation and training, employer incentivisation, and access to general job intermediation services. Family friendly work policies and teaching cultural competency to local employers were also noted as important areas to bridge the employment gap for migrants, and specifically women migrants.

More information about this year’s European Migration Forum can be found here.