The S&D Group has called for more funding to be given to help with the integration of refugees into the EU labour market and their social inclusion. To achieve this, refugees and asylum seekers must have an equal access to education and training, housing and health care, labour market, and social protection, while guaranteeing their equal treatment and non-discrimination. The call came during a conference focused on creating a new EU asylum system and integrating refugees into European society.
Maria João Rodrigues, S&D Group vice-president for social affairs, said:
"A real common response to the refugee crisis is possible if European leaders regain the will to act together, instead of trying to pass on the 'hot potato'. Europe can create a strong external border that ensures security while at the same time respecting human rights. Our continent has enough financial resources, technology and willing people to make it happen.
"Well-managed and decent reception of asylum seekers, stronger capacity of asylum authorities, training and socio-economic integration of people authorised to stay, upholding European social norms for everyone, including minimum wages and availability of education and healthcare. All this would cost money, but money spent on a European policy, with European objectives, under European control and standards would finally allow us to get to grips with this crisis."
S&D MEP Brando Benifei, who is writing the Parliament's report on how to integrate refugees into the labour market, said:
"The social inclusion and integration of refugees into the European labour market is one of the main challenges of our time, and failing in this task is simply not an option. We need to ensure that sufficient resources are allocated to effective programmes for the refugees' integration, while ensuring that no form of competition between the most disadvantaged groups within our societies takes place. For this reason, the S&D Group calls for the European Social Fund to be brought back to its original 25% share of the cohesion policy, after being slashed during the latest budget negotiations.
"Early intervention is crucial, and granting refugees and asylum seekers access to the labour market is important not only to restore their human dignity and self-worth, but it is also cost-efficient, as it would allow them to be self-sufficient and to gain economic independence, enabling them to contribute financially to the societies which they are living in."