20 November 2015

At a conference organised by the International Labour Organisation in Brussels this week, representatives from international organisations, civil society, EU institutions and the private business sector came together to discuss the integration of refugees in the labour market. Speakers were unanimous in recognising the absolute importance of employment in the integration process, identified by refugees themselves – together with housing – as a key aspect.

Mr. Buchwald, from the German Public Employment Services, underlined the need to change national laws first to adapt to the changing situation – an aspect in which he noted much openness on the side of the German government – in order to grant refugees access to the labour market, as well as to necessary language courses, at an early stage.

The current lack of legal and safe avenues to protection in Europe was highlighted by various speakers and the finalisation on the Directive on students and researchers was welcomed, as potentially opening more safe and legal pathways. “At this moment, Europe is showing its worst face to refugees,” stated Luca Visentini, General Secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation. Green MEP Jean Lambert commended the role of civil society in this regard, and urged States to do more in welcoming whilst integrating refugees into European society.

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This article appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 20 November 2015. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.