Brussels, 13 November 2020 —
The EU’s interior ministers have today made a joint statement on the recent terrorist attacks in Europe, touching on issues relating to integration and social cohesion.
Imogen Sudbery, the IRC’s Director of Policy and Advocacy for Europe, responded to the statement:
"We welcome EU leaders’ last-minute decision not to explicitly single out any specific religious communities in this joint statement. Focusing on particular minority groups would threaten to alienate and exclude, rather than foster a sense of belonging or make people feel welcome in their new homes. Credible and sustainable EU policies around integration should always be based on evidence and have a long-term perspective, not be created as a knee-jerk reaction to individual incidents.
That said, it’s disappointing to see that ministers continue to fall into the trap of conflating discussions around counter-terrorism and integration. This is not only unnecessary, but entirely counterproductive - pandering to populist narratives and further alienating people from their communities.
Integration is a two-way, mutually beneficial process. Yet today’s statement chooses not to focus on the immense benefits it offers to new arrivals and welcoming communities, instead positioning a lack of integration as a threat to the “European way of life”.
The IRC has long called for comprehensive EU action on integration. Any proposals that conflate counter-terrorism and integration send entirely the wrong message to long-term EU citizens and newcomers alike. They risk fanning the flames of division and mistrust within our communities.
We urge the European Commission to ensure this counterproductive agenda does not find its way into its long-awaited Action Plan on Integration, which is due for release on 24th November. Instead, we call on the EU and its Member States to make clear commitments to fostering social inclusion.
When refugees and asylum-seekers are given opportunities to contribute socially, culturally and economically it benefits everyone. These efforts must be at the heart of a common European approach to asylum and migration."