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High-level debate on immigration and social integration

  • Date(s)
    6 October 2006
  • Location
    East London

In co-operation with the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, Policy Network organised on 6th and 7th October 2006 in an East London venue a high-level debate on “The challenge of immigration and social integration in Western societies: towards a centre-left consensus” as part of its larger project on immigration/ integration issues.

25 senior politicians, government advisors and renowned experts from across Europe attended the seminar, including Jeroen Dijsselbloem (Dutch Labour Party’s Home Affairs Spokesperson), Dieter Wiefelspütz (Spokesperson of the parliamentary group of the German SPD on domestic politics), Jon Cruddas MP and Frank Field MP.

Purpose of the seminar

Migration is here to stay. But the objective of successfully integrating migrants requires public policy to manage both immigration and integration effectively. If we fail to do so, our economies might suffer a blow, as migrations bring us benefits in terms of skills and labour workforce. This is as much a social, security, and political issue than an economic one.

This is why the aim of the seminar was to help reach a comprehensive understanding of the barriers to social inclusion that migrants face in our societies. It was also to contribute to the formulation of a basic European centre left consensus on how to deal with the challenges of integration and disseminate “best-practice”-experiences at the various levels of governance, while taking into account the different traditions and eco-demographic needs of the different EU member states.

Both traditional assimilationist and multicultural ‘models’ have often been debated, and criticised. As a consequence it was considered crucial to explore innovative policy approaches, which combine equal opportunities for all, ethnic and cultural diversity, and social and political cohesion. A specific emphasis was put on the question of how to deal with Islam as a quickly growing religion in Europe; and at whether it was possible to develop a progressive sense of nationalism which is clearly distinguishable from the chauvinistic approach of the centre-right, taking into account the need for a national identity in an increasingly globalised world.

Key questions for the future of progressive politics were raised: the practical action needed to meet the needs of both the individuals and the receiving society; the role of the state and of the other key actors involved nationally and locally in this process; devolution and empowerment; conditionality of the rights granted to migrants and responsibilities in exchange; the liberty versus security challenge; and the definition and necessity of ‘progressive nationalism’; contract citizenship. .

The event was composed of four sessions of interactive discussions. You can download the agenda of the event above.

Further information

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