Ahead of the Justice and Home Affairs Council in Vilnius on 18-19 July, the S&D Group has adopted a declaration calling for a fundamental reform of European integration and immigration policy. The declaration forms part of the 'Europe Plus' initiative launched by the S&D Group to promote an inclusive Europe for all.
S&D Group President Hannes Swoboda said:
"The EU is based on fundamental rights, social welfare and justice. We must ensure that these rights are available to all those living and working in the EU, regardless of where they come from.
"Citizenship must be at the core of the European project, not just in the 2013 European Year of Citizens but in the long term. There are millions of new Europeans today – including at least two generations of people from outside the EU who have come to work or study, or have been born and raised in Europe – who still feel excluded. We have to make sure we do not let them become lost generations for Europe.
"The lack of a coherent integration and immigration policy is destroying the social fabric of Europe. Only an inclusive Europe can offer an answer to the growing xenophobia and populism in our societies."
In the declaration, the S&D Group calls on EU ministers to:
- Encourage member states to facilitate access to citizenship for children born in the EU or who have followed a full cycle of education in the EU. This should respect national differences in legislation but set out a common European principle.
- Gradually extend citizenship rights to third-country nationals who are long-term residents.
- Engage in a revision of EU immigration policy to support access to employment within the needs of labour markets and to make sure that migrants enjoy the fundamental rights enshrined in the EU Charter, including core social and labour rights. These are the rights of all persons, not just of EU citizens. It is therefore vital that the Parliament and Council overcome their differences swiftly to adopt the proposed directives on entry and staying for seasonal workers and on intra-corporate transfers, ensuring they fully respect workers' rights.
- Ensure member states ratify the UN convention on the protection of migrant workers and their family members.
S&D vice-president Sylvie Guillaume concluded:
"Too many second- and third-generation migrants, born or raised in the EU, still face difficulties in exercising the rights attached to their citizenship, even though most of them are nationals of an EU member state.
"Confronted with an increasingly challenging economic situation, low access to education and often discriminated against for their ethnic origin, they become even more vulnerable to unemployment.
"Exclusion is clearly not the winning formula to tackle this problem as it makes communities more inward-looking and more vulnerable to extremist rhetoric. The best answer relies instead on more inclusion, notably involving economic partners to help fight discrimination and encourage diversity, to achieve stronger social cohesion."