European societies are, and will continue to become, increasingly diverse. Today, there are 20 million non EU nationals residing in the EU who make up 4% of its total population. Human mobility, in varying degrees and for a variety of different reasons, will be an inherent feature of the 21stcentury for Europe as well as globally. In this light it is absolutely essential that the EU and its Member States, invest as early as possible in integration policies for third country nationals.

The Common Basic Principles for Immigrant Integration Policy in the EU were adopted by the Justice and Home Affairs Council in November 2004 (which form the foundations of EU initiatives in the field of integration) have clearly highlighted and recognized that integration has to be approached as a two way process:

The first Common Basic principle (CBP 1) reads "Integration is a dynamic, two-way process of mutual accommodation by all immigrants and residents of Member States". Other important CBP in this respect are:

  • CBP 6: "Access for immigrants to institutions, as well as to public and private goods and services, on a basis equal to national citizens and in a non-discriminatory way is a critical foundation for better integration"
  • CBP 7: "Frequent interaction between immigrants and Member State citizens is a fundamental mechanism for integration. Shared forums, intercultural dialogue, education about immigrants and immigrant cultures, and stimulating living conditions in urban environments enhance the interactions between immigrants and Member State citizens"
  • CBP 9: "The participation of immigrants in the democratic process and in the formulation of integration policies and measures, especially at the local level, supports their integration".

This was further reinforced in the Common Basic Principles – Ten Years On (2014) stock taking (Justice and Home Affairs Council Conclusions of 5-6 June 2014 ) where the EU Member States highlighted “A more balanced approach based on non-discrimination in order to safeguard basic values, counter prejudices, and respect diversity” was the first of the four priorities to be further pursued.

IOM believes that to foster inclusive societies with welcoming attitudes towards foreigners is an integral part of building security and cohesion in Europe. Xenophobia and marginalization of minority groups (whether national minorities or migrants) poses serious risk to the cohesion of a society / community and impedes each individual to fulfill himself / herself within the community – thus leading to frustrations.

The Presentation will focus on two key areas of activity for IOM: youth engagement and changing the narrative.

Civic and Political participation / engagement of migrant youth and children of migrants (second generation) as a key component of inclusive societies

A considerable proportion of migrants in the European Union are young people. A significant number of migrant youth and children of migrants (second generation) still experience less favorable outcomes in schools and in the job markets of EU countries. Both categories therefore need to be engaged in political and civic processes in order not to be left in the margins of the societies in which they live.

The inclusion of the voice of the youth and their concerns in formal politics is important. Although young people may not be interested in political processes, they are certainly interested in the topics discussed. Young migrants have strong feelings and opinions on key social issues such as inclusion, education, the environment and unemployment. Excluding the voice of young people from decision-making may foster significant frustration.

The possibility of influencing issues are important incentives for youth. Thus, political engagement should be understood as a multidimensional process that also recognises other channels and forms of participation. Young people need diverse forms for participating – that encourage the creation of a wider range of non-institutionalised ways of expressing opinions and initiating activities which are not yet contemplated in representative democracy and institutionalised structures.

ACCESS - Active Citizenship: Enhancing Political Participation of Migrant Youth

1-Dec-13 – 31-Jul-15 - €635,419, DG Home Affairs, European Commission

Target countries / cities: Finland (Helsinki), France (Marseille), Spain (Barcelona), Czech Republic (Prague), Romania (Cluj)

IOM views young people as a positive force for transformative social change. The project has provided equal opportunities for migrant youth to participate in society, and raise awareness and recognition through non-traditional channels such as music, art, sports, movements and political statements as a means of engaging. During the project, a total of more than 125 migrant young people and political actors were brought together to discuss elements needed to foster and encourage third country national youth political participation.

During the 18-month period, the project has invited young adults to brainstorm and actively participate in influencing those areas most important to them. In all partner cities, ACCESS Youth Teams implemented various activities which connected like-minded young people together to make an impact on policies and address the challenges faced by their communities. The teams organised consultative meetings with EU parliamentarians and national authorities, where they raised issues such as youth social exclusion and marginalisation, youth unemployment and migrant youth challenges in the school environment.

The aim of the ACCESS peer review was to increase partnering municipalities’ awareness of the benefits and limitations of their practices, programmes and policies for involving migrant youth in decision-making processes. Through the peer review process, the project has created new ways of generating dialogue between generations and building networks between young people and decision-makers across partner countries. Peers evaluated the current policies and practices in all partner municipalities and provided concrete advice and tools for the authorities in involving young people in the planning, implementing and monitoring of questions concerning them.

The findings of these peer reviews can be found under the Self-Assessment Tool. The aim of this tool is to provide non-project municipalities an opportunity to compare and assess their resources and structures against the results collected during the ACCESS peer reviews.

Changing the narrative: praising diversity and fostering open societies

IOM has in the past years led two global campaigns to support a change in narrative and in the perception of migrants by general population.

Migrants Contribute

The general public’s image and representation of migrants is an unbalanced, predominantly negative one; a perception based on uninformed assumptions and stereotypes. More often than not, and particularly in times of crisis, migrants are blamed for a broad range of social and economic ills. The present campaign intends to help address these shortcomings and to:

  • Correct common misrepresentations, information deficits and injustice;
  • Articulate a more balanced, documented and positive view of migrants and of their contribution the modern-day societies;
  • Facilitate migrant integration and reintegration, help ease social tensions and make it easier for governments and societies to reap the considerable positive potential of international migration.

The campaign focused on what migrants bring, not on where they’re from. The 5-word slogan of the campaign is: “It’s amazing what migrants bring”. Further copy expands the main idea: “New skills. New Ideas. New points of view. New Progress. And what they bring can benefit everyone”.

The photos of actual migrants with short accompanying copy that tell their personal story and contribution. Examples: “I’ve brought endless curiosity, a PHD no one else could have written and a glorious recipe for borscht”; “I’ve brought multi-tasking skills, heaps of team spirit and all the latest dance moves”.

I am a Migrant

I am a migrant is a campaign and platform. We create a place for the personal stories of migrants. We want to challenge the anti-migrant stereotypes and hate speech in politics and society.

The site brings together profiles of migrants including their country of origin and the distance from the place where they now live.

Everyone is invited to contribute with their stories simply by share their story or a story they collected at


Follow on Facebook Follow on X (Twitter) Follow on Vimeo Follow on Youtube Follow on Instagram Follow via Flickr Follow via RSS Follow on Linkedin
Cookies user preferences
We use cookies to ensure you to get the best experience on our website. If you decline the use of cookies, this website may not function as expected.
Accept all
Decline all
Read more
Tools used to analyze the data to measure the effectiveness of a website and to understand how it works.
Google Analytics