The large number of arrivals of people seeking international protection in the European Union in 2015–2016 led many EU Member States to implement new or enhanced measures for the integration of asylum seekers and beneficiaries of international protection. In this emergency context, the integration measures in most Member States focused on ensuring that basic needs would be met in an unfamiliar country, with an emphasis on language learning and access to employment. Few Member States developed integration measures covering the full social and economic inclusion of all their residents. In this regard, there is still a need to facilitate and provide access to basic services for TCNs, in order to encourage further integration and inclusion. These services should ideally be offered in a “mainstreaming approach” so that migrants can fully access the benefits provided by other social policies, which they would be entitled to.
The inability to communicate effectively in a host country’s language can impede access to services and achieving long-term integration. National government authorities are aware of the importance of supporting language learning, but in many countries there is a clear drop-off in support for intermediate and advanced courses. It is therefore crucial to provide adequate language learning possibilities at various levels for TCNs in order to facilitate their integration into all aspects of society, local labour markets and education systems.
Although language learning for primary and secondary school children is usually provided by their host country in order to permit children to integrate into the school system, further language training for young adults is often not provided. Language courses at various levels, including intermediate (B1-B2) and advanced (C1-C2) levels according to the Common European Framework for Languages[[https://www.coe.int/en/web/common-european-framework-reference-languages/level-descriptions, would be necessary in order to allow adult TCNs, who have not been through the local school system, to access vocational and higher education programmes.
While TCNs generally have access to mainstream public employment services, availability of other services or vocational training opportunities that are tailored specifically to the needs of TCNs are not always ensured throughout the EU. Moreover, it would be useful to promote financial inclusion and literacy of TCNs in order to facilitate their access to financial services, including digital banking, mortgages, loans and investments. Access to health care and housing also requires more attention from policy-makers. To counter the lack of social housing in some countries, specific initiatives should be put into place in order to assist TCNs in finding proper and affordable accommodation.
The global COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected vulnerable communities, including TCNs across the EU[[Analysis on Covid-19’s impact of migrant communities published in EWSI (https://ec.europa.eu/migrant-integration/news/covid-19s-impact-on-migrant-communities).. Health care systems have been overstretched and in many cases, TCNs did not receive proper support nor relevant information in their native language.
Intercultural competence in health care systems is increasingly recognised as an essential element of adequate health care provision. In a majority of countries, it is possible for TCNs to obtain interpretation or cultural mediation services (including via telephone or video), but only a handful of countries make these types of services widely available.
Finally, interpreting services should be of high professional level (both linguistically and ethically) in order to provide sufficient support to TCNs in accessing health care, housing and social service sectors. Currently, interpreters and cultural mediators are not always trained by institutions specialised in interpreting training, providing internationally accepted qualification recognised by professional organisations. Sometimes interpreters do not have any training at all, are trained on the spot or follow short courses organised by NGOs. This results in an unequal quality of interpreting, which can be harmful to both the beneficiary and the provider of the public service involved. Therefore, there is a need to provide systematic and professional training to public service interpreters provided by recognised institutions, based on a framework of minimum standards.
The objective of this topic is to improve access to basic services for TCNs, by identifying and reducing obstacles to access services in one or several of the following areas:
In particular the aim is to improve the quality and availability of information on accessing these services, the capacity of service providers to deal with TCNs, addressing language, cultural and other possible barriers in accessing these services. Consequently, proposals should include a “multi-stakeholder approach” and ensure the involvement of the relevant actors.
Actions funded under this topic can focus on providing one specific basic service or on a transversal approach to accessing the basic services referred to in the previous section.
Actions can also include the organisation of trainings, conferences, webinars as well as mapping and research.
Proposals should include one or more of the following actions (non-exhaustive list):
Proposals may include other actions beyond those listed above; however, they should clearly demonstrate how actions would serve to achieve the objectives outlined above.
Actions can target TCNs in general or focus on specific groups, such as migrant women, children and/or specifically vulnerable migrants.
The proposed actions should employ a “multi-stakeholder approach” ensuring the involvement of relevant actors, such as public authorities (local, regional or national), economic and social partners, employers, service providers in the relevant areas, e.g. health care, housing, and financial services, civil society organisations, including migrant associations and local communities in the design and implementation of the proposed actions. Applicants should consider and clearly detail in their application how the different domains and relevant actors are to be involved.
Proposals should focus on contributing to the achievement of the following outcomes:
Further considerations applicable to this topic