19th December, 2016






On the occasion of yesterday’s International Migrants Day, Eurodiaconia wants to seize this opportunity to express its concern about the restricted access to basic social and healthcare services which many migrants in Europe continue to face.

Adequate access to enabling services is an essential precondition for the well-being and societal participation of vulnerable individuals. As such, Eurodiaconia warmly welcomes the recently published EU Action Plan on the Integration of Third Country Nationals, which outlines important measures to strengthen the quality and scope of service provision and to improve labour market access and social inclusion for third country nationals. As the Action Plan moves towards implementation in Member States it is essential that both documented and undocumented migrants have access to services that ensure their dignity, rights and inclusion in society.

Eurodiaconia is a European network of 47 Christian-based service providers and social justice actors.  Its members are actively involved in the integration of migrants by providing a wide range of services, such as financial and legal counselling, food aid, accommodation support, language and vocational training courses and basic healthcare programmes.  They are witnessing increasing rates of poverty and social exclusion among migrants, which have been further exacerbated by governmental austerity measures. Additionally, undocumented migrants face increasing challenges to use services in an equal and sustainable way.

As the EU Action Plan moves into implementation, we would like to encourage the EU and Member States to take the following key recommendations into account:

Firstly, basic services must be provided without prejudice to all migrants, regardless of legal status. Secondly, services must be provided with an integrated, rights based approach across the lifecycle.  Thirdly, the European Commission and Member States must put an end to the threat of criminalization of social service providers supporting undocumented migrants. Finally, not for profit social services providers must be supported by the European Union and Member States to be able to provide the services required, including adequate financing, structural support and be recognised as partners.

Heather Roy, Secretary General of Eurodiaconia, states: ‘‘Social Services are essential for ensuring both dignity and inclusion. Restricting the access of migrants to basic social and healthcare services is an attack on human dignity and prevents opportunities for inclusion. Providing adequate services is not merely a cost, it is an investment.”