For the first time in the proposal for the next Multiannual Financial Framework 2021 – 2027 (MFF), the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+) will include a specific objective focusing on socio-economic inclusion of third country nationals, and become the main funding instrument for mainstream actions aiming at the integration of migrant, asylum seekers and refugees.

The European Social Fund already supports migrants and refugees inclusion in many member states. Little is known in terms of numbers due to different definitions of ‘migrants’ across the EU member states and the lack of clear indicators on the EU side. Selective interpretations of the concept of ‘third country nationals’ have, in many member states, excluded certain categories of applicants from benefitting from ESF programmes. These programmes aim at improving their accession to services, enhancement of employability and skills with trainings and vocational education, or integration within the labour market.

Overall, about 1.1 million participants in ESF-supported initiatives have a migrant background, but these differ consistently across member states. To portray the diverse approach used in inclusion, EPIM has recently produced a study, carried out by Migration Policy Institute, that points out lights and shadows within the implementation of ESF programmes on integration of migrant and refugees. The research, carried out by Aliyyah Ahad and Timo Schmidt displays the diverse issues and good practices put in place in five member states (France, Germany, Italy, Poland and Sweden) and highlights key takeaways for different elements of funding implementation (planning of activities, indicators and definitions, monitoring and evaluation, partnership with civil society).

ECRE and PICUM have provided input and feedback for the study in the framework of the ECRE – PICUM project on EU funding for inclusion, which aims at advocating for better funding for inclusion of third country nationals within the next MFF at EU and national level.

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