The integration of third-country nationals legally residing in the Member States of the European Union has gained increasing importance on the European agenda in recent years.
The Hague Program on strengthening freedom, security and justice in the EU called for the development of a website on Integration EWSI. The aim of this new website is to help improve the effectiveness of integration policies and practices in the European Union by sharing successful strategies, good practicies and supporting collaboration and cooperation. It aims to publish accurate data and non-biased information. Country reports give an overview of key information for each EU Member State.
The site is intended as a tool for people working in the field of integration, both in non-government and government organizations. Also, it brings together information about the variety of funding opportunities for integration practitioners.
Anne Stalfort facilitates the German language Facebook-Community of EWSI.
The MaG: What are the current three biggest challenges in European migration and integration policy?
Anne Stalfort: There are certainly more than three challenges in European immigration – and the same goes for the benefits of it. The most burning issue is that immigration policies need to be developed on a European, not on a national level. But finding a unified immigration policy is difficult, because member states have different attitudes and policies toward immigrants.
The MaG: Europe is more and more being perceived as a fortress. The EU seems comfortable with this perception. What do you think of this (also in terms of human rights?)
Anne Stalfort: It would help to balance the debate if one would also look at the benefits of immigration, not just the challenges. The public discourse on immigration is often poisoned with racism, anti-Roma-sentiments and Islamophobia. Politicians, media, civil society organizations and individual citizens alike have to accept responsibility and protect the human rights of discriminated-against immigrants.
The MaG: Doesn’t the EU have to do some “homework” regarding Italy and the whole Lampedusa problem?
Anne Stalfort: The EU has definitely not done enough to open legal migration channels, especially for those who are neither well educated nor wealthy.
The MaG: Why is it important to centralize information about migration and integration on a website?
Anne Stalfort: National immigration and integration policies, studies, statistics and best practices are often scattered and hard to find. EWSI aims at building a European platform for all this information, because most current immigration and integration issues are happening on a European, not on a national level.
The MaG: What kind of news do you publish and who is your target group?
Anne Stalfort: EWSI offers up to date and non-biased information. We reach out to readers who enjoy getting European immigration and integration news. I myself facilitate headlines and discussions in German language. Check it out!