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'Integration and inclusion means listening to migrant communities' Johansson

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The European Commission has launched (24 November) its latest action plan on integration and inclusion for the period 2021-2027. The action plan promotes inclusion for all, recognizing the barriers that can hinder integration. 

It is built on the principle that inclusive integration requires efforts from both the person and the host community and sets out new actions that build on the achievements of the previous action plan from 2016. The new approach also looks at how host communities can help migrants integrate.

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Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson said: "Migrants are ‘us', not ‘them'. Everyone has a role to play in making sure our societies are cohesive and prosperous. Integration and inclusion mean listening to migrant communities and ensuring that everyone can enjoy rights, regardless of background. Inclusive integration is giving the same tools and support needed to contribute to society, so that migrants can reach their full potential and our societies benefit from their strength and skills.”

In the Pact on Migration and Asylum,  the EU underlines that successful integration and inclusion is an essential part of a well-managed and effective migration and asylum policy. 

The action plan proposes targeted and tailored support that takes into account specific challenges of different migrant groups, such as gender or religious background. 

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European Youth Initiative

Commission kick-starts work to make 2022 the European Year of Youth

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Following the announcement made by President von der Leyen in her 2021 State of the Union address, the Commission has adopted its formal proposal to make 2022 the European Year of Youth. Europe needs the vision, engagement and participation of all young people to build a better future, that is greener, more inclusive and digital. With this proposal, Europe is striving to give young people more and better opportunities for the future. The Commission is also publishing its latest EU Youth Report, which provides an overview of the situation of young Europeans in terms of education, training, learning, employment, and civic and political participation.

With the European Year of Youth, the Commission intends, in co-operation with the European Parliament, member states, regional and local authorities, stakeholders and young people themselves: 

  • To honour and support the generation that has sacrificed the most during the pandemic, giving them new hopes, strength and confidence in the future by highlighting how the green and digital transitions offer renewed perspectives and opportunities;
  • to encourage all young people, especially those with fewer opportunities, from disadvantaged backgrounds, from rural or remote areas, or belonging to vulnerable groups, to become active citizens and actors of positive change;
  • to promote opportunities provided by EU policies for young people to support their personal, social and professional development. The European Year of Youth will go hand in hand with the successful implementation of NextGenerationEU in providing quality jobs, education and training opportunities, and;
  • to draw inspiration from the actions, vision and insights of young people to further strengthen and invigorate the common EU project, building upon the Conference on the Future of Europe.

The Commission is currently developing its programme of activities and all interested parties will be invited to submit their ideas and proposals. A dedicated survey on the Youth Portal will be launched in the coming days. Working together with other EU institutions, member states, civil society organisations and young people, the Commission will organize a number of activities throughout the year at European, national, regional and local level and consider new initiatives. The scope of activities will cover issues that mostly affect young people, following the priorities highlighted in the Youth Goals, such as equality and inclusion, sustainability, mental health and well-being, and quality employment. They will involve young people beyond the EU. The Commission calls on member states to appoint a national co-ordinator responsible for organising their participation in the European Year of Youth.

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The Commission's proposal will now be discussed by Parliament and Council, with the opinions of the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions taken into account. The events and activities are expected to start in January.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said: “The pandemic has robbed young people of many opportunities - to meet and make new friends, to experience and explore new cultures. While we cannot give them that time back, we are proposing today to designate 2022 the European Year of Youth. From climate to social to digital, young people are at the heart of our policymaking and political priorities. We vow to listen to them, as we are doing in the Conference on the Future of Europe, and we want to work together to shape the future of the European Union. A Union that is stronger if it embraces the aspirations of our young people - grounded in values and bold in action.”

Promoting our European Way of Life Vice President Margaritis Schinas said: “Our Union is an area of freedom, values, opportunities and solidarity unique in the world. As we are emerging stronger together from the pandemic, the 2022 European Year of Youth will foster these principles for and with our younger generations across Europe. It is our duty to protect and empower them because their diversity, courage and boldness are essential for our future as Europeans.”

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Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth Commissioner Mariya Gabriel said: “The European Year of Youth should bring a paradigm shift in how we include young people in policy and decision-making. The objectives of the Year are to listen, engage and promote concrete opportunities for youth. We also need to bridge the gap between generations. Today's young people are less interested in traditional forms of participation, but they are active in standing up for what they believe in, engaging in new ways. This Year wants to pay tribute and recognise the commitment of young people. With this Decision we start a co-creation process with all interested parties to contribute to the successful organisation of the Year.” 

Background

The European Year of Youth will go hand in hand with NextGenerationEU, which reopens perspectives for young people, including quality jobs and education and training opportunities for the Europe of the future, and supports young people's participation in society.

The Year of Youth will seek synergies and complementarity with other EU programmes targeting youth across the policy spectrum - from rural development programmes focussed on young farmers to research and innovation programmes, and from cohesion to climate change actions - including EU programmes with international outreach or of a transnational nature.

Besides, Erasmus+ and the European Solidarity Corps, with budgets of €28 billion and €1bn respectively for the current financial period, the EU's Youth Guarantee and Youth Employment Initiative are creating more opportunities for young people. While, in 2022 also, a new programme called ALMA will be launched to support cross-border professional mobility for disadvantaged young people.

The EU Youth Strategy 2019-2027 is the framework for EU youth policy co-operation. It supports youth participation in democratic life and aims to ensure that all young people take part in society. The EU Youth Dialogue is a central tool in these efforts.

Finally, the Conference on the Future of Europe, which will draw its conclusions also in 2022, ensures that the views and opinions of young people on the future of our Union are heard. One-third of participants in the European Citizens' Panels and of Panel representatives to the Conference Plenaries are also young people, while the president of the European Youth Forum also takes part in plenaries.

More information

EU Youth Report

European Youth Portal

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Defence

Essential infrastructure: New rules to boost co-operation and resilience

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Civil Liberties Committee MEPs endorse new rules to better protect essential services like energy, transport and drinking water.

With 57 votes in favour and six against (no abstentions), the Committee adopted its negotiation position on new rules on EU critical infrastructure entities. MEPs are aiming to better protect essential services (e.g. energy, transport, banking, drinking water and digital infrastructure) by improving member state resilience strategies and risk assessments.

Climate change is included as a potential source of disruption of essential infrastructure, and cyber-security is seen as an important aspect of resilience. As services are increasingly interdependent, the reformed directive requires local authorities to set up a single point of contact responsible for communicating with other jurisdictions. It also creates a new Critical Entities Resilience Group to facilitate communication between stakeholders, with Parliament participating as an observer.

MEPs push for broader scope, more transparency

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MEPs want to see more transparency when disruptions happen, requiring critical entities to inform the general public about incidents or serious risks. They also want to make sure that member states can provide financial support to critical entities, where this is in the public interest, without prejudice to state aid rules.

The Civil Liberties Committee proposes to widen the definition of essential services, so that protecting the environment, public health and safety, and the rule of law are also mentioned.

To make cross-border co-operation frictionless, MEPs finally want service providers to be considered “of European significance” if they offer similar services in at least three member states.

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After the vote, rapporteur Michal Šimečka (Renew, SK) said: "Critical entities provide essential services across the EU, while facing a growing number of both man-made and natural threats. Our ambition is to strengthen their ability to cope with risks to their operations while improving the functioning of the internal market in essential services. We are expected to deliver on a Europe that protects and that means also bolstering the collective resilience of the critical systems underpinning our way of life."

Background

The European Critical Infrastructure (ECI) directive currently covers only two sectors (transport and energy), whereas the reformed directive would expand this to ten (energy, transport, banking, financial market infrastructures, health, drinking water, waste water, digital infrastructure, public administration and space). At the same time, the new directive introduces an all-hazard risk approach, where the ECI was largely focused on terrorism.

Next steps

Before negotiations with the Council can start, the draft negotiating position will need to be endorsed by the whole house in a future session.

Further information 

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EU railways

EU offers young people 60,000 rail passes to DiscoverEU

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The Commission will provide free travel rail passes to 60,000 Europeans aged from 18 to 20 years, thanks to DiscoverEU. Applications open tomorrow, 12 October, at noon and close on 26 October, at noon, for a travel period in 2022, which will be the European Year of Youth.

European Way of Life Vice President Margaritis Schinas said: “Over the past 18 months, in a true spirit of solidarity, our young people have sacrificed valuable youthful and defining moments of their lives. I am delighted that the Commission offers today a European boom of mobility with the 60,000 train passes. This European boom of mobility and opportunities will be further fostered by Erasmus+ and many more initiatives coming for the European Year of Youth in 2022.”

Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth Commissioner Mariya Gabriel said: “I am very glad to open this new round of DiscoverEU to give 60,000 young people the chance to discover the richness of our continent. In the spirit of the Commission designating 2022 the European Year of Youth, DiscoverEU is back, bigger than ever, with new opportunities for young people to take a train, broaden their horizons, extend their learning, enrich their experiences and meet fellow Europeans while travelling by rail as of March 2022.”

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This application round is open to young Europeans born between 1 July 2001 and 31 December 2003. Exceptionally, 19 and 20 year-olds can also apply after their rounds were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Successful applicants can travel between March 2022 and February 2023 for up to 30 days. As the evolution of the pandemic remains unknown, all travellers will be offered flexible bookings through a new mobile travel pass. The departure date can be changed right up until the time of departure. The mobile travel passes have a one-year validity. The Commission advises all travellers to check potential travel restrictions on ReopenEU.

Young people with special needs are strongly encouraged to participate in DiscoverEU. The Commission will put information and tips at their disposal and cover the costs of special assistance, such as an accompanying person, an assistance dog, etc.

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Successful applicants can travel alone or in a group of up to five people (all within the eligible age range). To reinforce sustainable travel - and thereby support the European Green Deal, DiscoverEU participants will predominantly travel by rail. However, to ensure wide access across the EU, participants can also use alternative modes of transport, such as coaches or ferries, or exceptionally, planes. This will ensure that young people living in remote areas or on islands also have a chance to take part.

Every member state is allocated a number of travel passes, based on its population, as a proportion of the overall population of the European Union.

Background

The Commission launched DiscoverEU in June 2018, following a proposal from the European Parliament. It has been formally integrated into the new Erasmus+ programme 2021-2027.

DiscoverEU connects thousands of young people, building a community across Europe. Participants who had never met before linked up on social media, exchanged tips or offered local insights, formed groups to travel from city to city or stayed at each other's places.

In 2018-2019, 350,000 candidates applied for a total of 70,000 travel passes available: 66% of candidates travelled for the first time by train out of their country of residence. For many, it was also the first time they travelled without parents or accompanying adults and the majority indicated that they had become more independent. The DiscoverEU experience has given them a better understanding of other cultures and of European history. It has also improved their foreign language skills. Two-thirds said that they would not have been able to finance their travel pass without DiscoverEU.

Since 2018, former and prospective DiscoverEU travellers now form a diverse and engaged community that meets on- and offline to share their experiences.

Participants are invited to become DiscoverEU Ambassadors to champion the initiative. They are also encouraged to contact fellow travellers on the official DiscoverEU group online to share experiences and exchange tips, particularly on cultural experiences, or on how to travel digitally and sustainably.

To apply, eligible candidates need to complete a multiple-choice quiz on general knowledge about the European Union and other EU initiatives targeting young people. An additional question invites applicants to make an estimate of how many people apply in this round. The closer the estimate is to the correct answer, the more points the applicant gets. This will enable the Commission to rank the applicants. The Commission will offer travel passes to applicants following their ranking, until the available tickets run out.

More information

DiscoverEU

European Youth Portal

Factsheet

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