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Resolution 181 (2004)1 on “A pact for the integration and participation of people of immigrant origin in Europe’s towns, cities and regions”

The Congress, bearing in mind the proposal of the Chamber of Local Authorities,

1. Noting in particular:

a. the Council of Europe Convention on the Participation of Foreigners in Public Life at Local Level, which was opened for signature in 1992 and, to date, has been signed by 10 states and ratified by 7 of the 45 member states;

b. Congress Recommendation 76 (2000) adopted following the Strasbourg Conference on 5 and 6 November 1999, organised jointly by the Congress, the City of Strasbourg and its Foreigners’ Advisory Council;

c. Congress Recommendation 115 (2002) on the participation of foreign residents in local public life: consultative bodies adopted following the hearing held by the Congress in Stuttgart on 14 December 2001 at the invitation of the city’s mayor;

2. Noting the recent work of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, in particular Recommendation 1500 (2001) on participation of immigrants and foreign residents in political life in the Council of Europe member states and Recommendation 1625 (2003) on policies for the integration of immigrants in Council of Europe member states;

3. Also noting Recommendation (2001) 19 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on the participation of citizens in local public life, in particular paragraph 5 of section D of Appendix II thereto concerning foreigners, which urges member states to comply with the machinery provided for in the Council of Europe’s 1992 convention, even when its provisions are not legally binding on them;

4. Thanks the Mayor of Stuttgart for hosting on 15 and 16 September 2003 the Conference on “Foreigners’ integration and participation in European cities”, which was organised jointly by the Congress and the City of Stuttgart with the support of the Council of Europe’s Integrated Project on Making Democratic Institutions Work;

5. Taking note of the report by Helene Lund and Wolfgang Schuster [CPL (11) 4 Part II], Resolution … (2004), the Final Declaration adopted at the close of the Stuttgart Conference and appended to this Resolution, and the proceedings of the conference;

6. Notes the growing diversity of the nationalities of the residents of European cities following past and more recent migratory movements and believes that these flows into Europe are set to increase;

7. Believes there is a need for increased co-operation between all levels of government in order to define a coherent framework for legal and orderly immigration, while effectively combating illegal immigration that encourages trafficking in, and exploitation of, human beings;

8. Underlines that these migratory flows foster the diversity and vitality of our cities and bring numerous advantages in the demographic, economic and cultural spheres, but also constitute major challenges in terms of the integration of the individuals concerned and harmonious co-existence in European societies;

9. Believes that the integration of people of immigrant origin is a shared responsibility that demands national and European solidarity in order to help the local and regional authorities most directly affected by migratory flows;

10. Notes that, while local and regional authorities are key players for implementing integration programmes, they are not sufficiently involved in decision-making on migration and integration and very often have to take measures themselves that seriously undermine their budgets;

11. Believes that integration programmes must be aimed both at the effective integration of people of immigrant origin already settled and wishing to remain in the local and regional authorities where they live and also at putting in place specific measures for the integration of new arrivals;

12. Calls for heightened co-operation between the various political levels (national, regional and local) and with civil society in order to achieve the following three priority objectives:

i. integration and participation, which will make possible de jure and de facto equality of opportunity, and the same rights and obligations for all;

ii. peaceful coexistence, ensuring respect, in a spirit of tolerance, for the rights and freedoms of the individual, in particular freedom of opinion and freedom to exercise religion;

iii. use of cultural diversity as a resource by opening up urban life and public services in an intercultural manner;

13. Underlines that equality of opportunity can only be achieved through positive discrimination measures in a series of specific areas, which demands adequate human and financial resources;

14. Also underlines that any integration programmes must be accompanied by effective measures for combating discrimination, racism and intolerance;

15. Calls on all local and regional authorities in Europe to draw upon the Stuttgart Final Declaration with a view to fostering the integration and participation of people of immigrant origin, in particular by:

a. assigning high political priority to these issues and involving all players at local level in a genuine “pact for integration”, while implementing a policy of intensive communication on the matter with all residents;

b. taking account of these issues in all policy sectors so as to meet the specific needs of residents of immigrant origin, in particular in terms of education, training, language skills, housing and social and cultural programmes;

c. fostering meetings, dialogue and exchanges between all residents, building on cultural diversity and encouraging active participation by all individuals in the various aspects of local life;

d. setting up local consultative bodies or integration committees based on the handbook drawn up by the Congress2 on such bodies, regardless of whether or not all foreign residents have the right to vote at local level;

e. ensuring an intercultural approach in all municipal departments and services through proper staff training and the recruitment of intercultural teams;

f. establishing, with the support of the other tiers of government, long-term programmes that are periodically reviewed depending on their success and changes in needs;

g. increasing exchanges of experience with other local and regional authorities at national and European level so as to help disseminate best practice in this area;

16. In the framework of its future work on the strategies and programmes to be developed for fostering the integration and participation of people of immigrant origin in all aspects of life in Europe’s local and regional authorities (in the economic, social, cultural or political spheres), calls on its Committee on Culture and Education to continue its activities in this area in co-operation with the relevant committees of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and the intergovernmental sector, in particular the European Committee on Migration (CDMG) and the Steering Committee on Local and Regional Democracy (CDLR);

17. Congratulates the City of Stuttgart on its initiative to set up a network of European towns and cities wishing to step up their exchanges of experience and disseminate best practice in this field, and will offer its support to the success of the network within the limits of its budgetary and human resources.

Appendix

Final Declaration of the Conference “Foreigners’ integration and participation in European cities” 15-16 September 2003 Stuttgart, Landeshauptstadt, Germany
The delegates at the Stuttgart Conference on the theme of "Foreigners' integration and participation in European cities", held in Stuttgart on 15 and 16 September 2003 and attended by almost 400 people from 30 countries, mainly local and regional authority representatives, parliamentarians, government experts and representatives of civil society and various migrants' associations;

1. Note that, at this time of globalisation, increasing numbers of migrants will move to Europe from all parts of the world. Their successive migratory movements will involve a growing number of countries of origin and will foster the diversity and vitality of our cities, while presenting a challenge.

Although the historical dimension of 21st century migration will be different, we may note that the migrants of the past and those of today have helped to shape the European continent and enriched it in many ways.

This is why we are convinced that migratory movements will continue in future to bring major challenges, problems and tasks for the countries of immigration, but will also bring numerous advantages in the demographic, economic and cultural spheres.

It is all the more important for this migration to take place in accordance with common European rules for the fact that unlawful migration fosters the exploitation of human beings, the trafficking of human beings and other criminal activities.

More than ever, the causes of forced migration, when people flee or are expelled, for example, must be combated through national and international efforts, particularly through the prevention of violent and aggressive conflicts, and by promoting democratic structures, respect for human rights and sustainable economic development. Intercultural and inter-faith dialogue play an important role in this context.

2. In order to implement a successful integration policy, use must be made of networks of different political tiers, but also of every local political sphere and of the commitment of civil society. Only by working together will it be possible to attain the three following strategic objectives:

Ø Integration and participation which will make possible de facto and de jure equality of opportunity, and the same rights and obligations for all.

Ø A peaceful coexistence which makes possible the rights and freedoms of the individual, freedom of opinion and freedom to exercise religion in a tolerant manner.

Ø Use of cultural diversity as a resource. It must, however, also be regarded as a mission in order to achieve equality of opportunity in working life as in society, through an intercultural opening up of urban life and through achievement of an intercultural dimension in public services.

3. It will be possible to achieve these three objectives only through co-operation between the different political tiers.

At European level

Ø Close co-operation must be guaranteed between the Council of Europe and the European Union in order to ensure that human rights are respected in the same way in all member states, and that nobody will be obliged to leave his or her country because of an infringement of human rights. The human dignity of every individual must be respected in all circumstances.

Ø Immigration policy must be drawn up with common rules for potential migrants, but also for refugees. This also applies to family reunification.

Ø A joint platform must be set up for political dialogue between countries of origin and transit and host countries, so as to put an end to "human shunting”.

Ø Council of Europe Development Bank support programmes must be set up, so as to improve the living and working conditions of migrants in the cities and regions of member states, including financial conditions.

At national level

Ø Appropriate priority must be given to integration policy and, in particular, support must be provided in terms of finance and human resources to local/regional authorities which are required to integrate new migrants.

Ø In respect of all regulations and definitions relating to migration and integration policies, it must be ensured that municipalities and regions participate appropriately, and that the principle of subsidiarity is complied with where these measures are concerned.

Ø The acquisition of nationality must be facilitated and dual nationality made possible.

Ø In the context of political education, support must be given to exchanges of experience concerning the integration and participation of foreigners in public life as a task incumbent on society as a whole.

Ø Measures with a view to school and vocational training and labour market integration in cities must be supported. State assistance is required to promote languages among children and adults.

Ø Urban planning and housing measures must be so structured that municipalities will be able to offer migrants and their families appropriate housing in different neighbourhoods.

Ø It must be made possible, through national constitutions, for all who have lived in a municipality for a certain length of time to have the right to vote in municipal elections.

Ø Ratification of the relevant Council of Europe conventions is necessary, particularly the Convention on the Participation of Foreigners in Public Life at Local Level.

At local/regional authority level

Ø The integration and participation of migrants can be successful only if they are regarded as a vital aim of municipal policy. Political officials, like municipal authorities, public-service organisations, trade unions, schools, associations, etc, are required to play their part in this integration process.

In order to make the participation of the different groups of society compulsory, an "integration pact" should be introduced.

Ø Integration and participation must be based on information provided both to people long resident in our cities and to those newly arrived. It is therefore important actively to provide information about immigration, to encourage tolerance and to react rapidly and decisively to any manifestation of racism. This also implies the provision of information to migrants about our democratic values, so that human rights are respected and the exploitation of human beings eliminated and prosecuted. This also includes the provision of information about those laws which it is most important to comply with.

Ø Integration and participation are most successful when support measures take account of the individual situation of migrants. It is necessary to design a support programme appropriate to migrants' individual living conditions and age.

This implies that migrants living in a country must be able to understand, speak and read that country's language.

Language learning at nursery school is the easiest way. But there is also a need to encourage language learning and education at primary and secondary schools.

Language lessons, in conjunction with integration lessons, should be offered to adults in neighbourhoods, as should specific language lessons for the purposes of integration into employment.

Employment authorities, youth offices and enterprises should support measures intended to encourage the acquisition of vocational skills.

Ø Peaceful coexistence among the different nationalities in an urban society will be fostered by the genuine existence of equality of opportunity.

This implies the promotion of migrants' access to low-rent housing in all neighbourhoods, so as to prevent the formation of ghettos. The prime aim is to prevent the segregation of certain nationalities or ethnic groups, insofar as such ethnic ghettos render integration difficult over a long period.

Ø In order to encourage participation and prevent prejudice and tension, "round tables" should be set up in each neighbourhood. At these public events, the representatives of musical, cultural and sports associations and of schools should find opportunities to play an active role, so as to encourage the greatest number of migrants to play their part in the many activities open to citizens.

The programmes of citizens' centres or community centres should cater for migrants' specific needs.

Intercultural and inter-faith dialogue in neighbourhoods enables prejudice to be eliminated. The joint organisation of events fosters conviviality, togetherness and diversity in cultural life.

Ø Cultural diversity will in future, even more than today, play an important role as an intellectual and economic resource in the global competition between locations. Hence it is also in the interest of appropriate urban development to encourage intercultural initiatives and events and to make possible exchanges between artists from different cultural backgrounds.

Municipal services and offices should operate on an intercultural basis. This implies the introduction of guidelines and training programmes for municipal staff, the creation of intercultural teams and a greater effort to recruit workers who speak several languages.

Ø Whether or not all foreign citizens have the right to vote in municipal elections, it will be appropriate to set up integration committees (consultative structures) for the whole city and for its neighbourhoods. So that these enjoy migrants' trust, it is preferable for their members to be elected.

4. Policy on integration into European cities will be a growing challenge and a long-drawn-out task.

The various local possibilities and experience encourage us to ask the Council of Europe:

- to support the setting up and functioning of a network of local and regional authorities in order to facilitate and improve on a lasting basis the exchange of experience,

- to promote an evaluation process covering the quality, duration and success of local integration policies, so that these may be evaluated and compared. This will enable municipalities' officials to learn from each others’ experience.

We call on the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe:

- to disseminate the proceedings and conclusions of the Stuttgart Conference widely in Europe,

- to continue its efforts to integrate foreign residents and enable them to participate in local public life, in conjunction with the other Council of Europe sectors concerned and other relevant European organisations,

- to support the exchange of experience between municipalities regarding good integration practice, within the framework of a network of towns and cities.

1 Debated and approved by the Chamber of Local Authorities on 25 May 2004 and adopted by the Standing Committee of the Congress on 27 May 2004, (see doc. CPL (11) 4, draft resolution presented by H. Lund (Denmark, L, SOC) and W. Schuster (Germany, L, EPP/CD), rapporteurs).

2 With the support of the Council of Europe’s Integrated Project on Making Democratic Institutions Work.

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