EQUAL-Newsletter der EU-Kommission erschienen
Der EQUAL-Newsletter Nr. 1 (April 2006) der EU-Kommission enthält Informationen über den Europäischen Sozialfonds, EQUAL-Ergebnisse auf europäischer Ebene und gibt Einblicke in EQUAL-Entwicklungen in einzelnen Mitgliedsstaaten. Darüber hinaus informiert er über den Themenbereich "Asylbewerber" in der 2. Förderrunde:
EQUAL Asylum Seeker theme: Who is in for the Second Round?
The EQUAL Second Round started in January 2005. Development Partnerships (DPs) have had almost a year to set up networks, negotiate roles, define principal tasks, and obtain commitment of the actors involved. The purpose of this article is to summarise the priorities, innovative developments, and potentially interesting approaches of the DPs receiving financial support under the Asylum Seekers theme in the EQUAL Round 2. This review pays specific attention to thematic changes of the DP programmes in comparison to Round 1. It also looks in detail at how the participation of the New Member States has changed the priorities of the EQUAL partnerships.
The Asylum Seekers is by far the smallest of the EQUAL themes - 64 partnerships are financed during Round 2. The total number of partnerships in the "old" Member States (i.e. EU15 countries) has increased from 38 in Round 1 to 46 in Round 2. However, Round 1 initially started with a higher number of 45 DPs, some of which proved to be unsustainable. It seems promising that some new Member States are implementing more than the minimum of one partnership required. Four partnerships have been initiated in Poland and the Czech Republic, Slovakia has three DPs, and two have been formed in Hungary.
What is new and what is being further worked on - a summary
It is promising to see that the Second Round partnerships working under the Asylum Seekers theme have considered and integrated the lessons learned during EQUAL Round 1. The main emphasis has been placed on providing asylum seekers with comprehensive support packages including assistance measures all through the asylum seeking process. These include measures facilitating their arrival, orientation, and end with the instruments helping asylum seekers to integrate in the new host state or reintegrate in the country of origin. All DPs cover more than one of the following five Sub-themes identified:
I - Arrival and general support,
II - Education and training,
III - Employment,
IV - Making reintegration possible,
V - Capacity building.
Partnerships are ambitious and multi-thematic, dealing with 3.5 Sub-themes on average. These broad themes have been operationalised in 23 concrete objectives, each DP covering activities to achieve approximately seven broad aims.
Around 84% of DPs focus their activities on Arrival and general support, Education and training, and Capacity building measures. Employment-related goals are pursued by 63% of the partnerships, whilst a relatively small part covers actions to facilitate Reintegration (19%). A quarter of the DPs mostly in the "old" Member States plan to undertake assessment of asylum seekers' skills. Empowerment and self-confidence building of asylum seekers, a new and interesting objective, is addressed by 20% of the EU15 DPs.
While the focus on Employment, Education and training, as well as Making reintegration possible is similar between the Rounds 1 and 2, Round 2 places much more emphasis on Arrival, general support, and Capacity building themes. This may be partly the result of the recommendations emerging from Round 1 which stressed that assistance to asylum seekers should start as early as possible, emphasise the need to improve the quality of services and the overall awareness of asylum seekers' needs and potential.
Both the New Member States and the EU15 countries place high priority on Education and training. However, the new Member States are putting more emphasis on general advisory activities and individual counselling while the EU15 countries seem to concentrate more on the organisation of on-the-job training. It will be interesting to see whether the access to these forms of training, partly restricted during the Round 1, will become easier after the implementation of the Reception directive. So far only a minority of DPs manage to get asylum seekers into "real" jobs, although a large majority of partnerships (63%) focus on providing advice and guidance to asylum seekers on employment-related issues. This confirms that in most Member States asylum seekers still face legal or social barriers in accessing labour markets.
Twelve partnerships (19%) in the Round 2 are working on the theme Making reintegration possible, nearly the same share as identified under Round 1. Only one New Member State DP is planning activities in this field. Most of the reintegration measures are a part of "neutral" services meant to make the asylum seeker aware of the likelihood of his or her return. Actions within the Sub-theme mainly aim to provide advice and guidance, followed by liaison with organisations in countries of origin, support on repatriation, and studies on the return countries.
Capacity building is covered by 54 DPs (84%). The number has grown in comparison to 46% of the First Round. All New Member States DPs plan to increase their capacity, against 78% of the EU15 partnerships. The principal actions planned include awareness raising, training of staff, studies, and networking. The scale of the Capacity building activities in the new Member States most likely reflect a need to address the challenges resulting from their status as potentially "new asylum states" and the need to improve their structures, facilities, and services as a result of EU policy and legislative requirements.
Future perspectives for EU networking in the Asylum Seekers theme
What do the above findings mean for European thematic networking? Should European networking in the Asylum Seekers area refocus or would a continuation of its initiatives be pursued? The analysis of the Round 2 partnerships, as well as discussions with key EQUAL actors in each Member State, brings about the following suggestions:
The direction chosen by DPs working under the Asylum Seekers theme in Round 2 broadly confirms the relevancy of the themes and priorities identified during the previous Round. At European level, similar types of activities as developed under Round 1 could support EU networking for Round 2. There is certainly scope for identifying new good practices, although a review of these in 2006 may be too early.
However, there may be a shift in priorities with more DPs in Round 2 devoting their attention to the Arrival and general support as well as Capacity building measures. Some further work should also be done on assessing the EQUAL findings concerning on the asylum seekers access to labour markets in the context of the Reception directive.
Two EU level Asylum Seeker events are planned for 2006, led by Greece and Sweden, addressing respectively employment / employer relations, and the links between EQUAL and the Reception Procedure. It would be of great value for the Round 2 DPs to get involved in these events. This may perhaps encourage some other countries to host events on Asylum Seeker theme in 2007.
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