EU gives new funds for integration of immigrants

The European Commission on Monday said it was giving new funds to support cross-border projects aimed at improving the integration of immigrants in the 27-member European Union. Some four million euros (5.4 million dollars) would be made available for 12 initiatives that “encourage dialogue with civil society, develop integration models, seek out and evaluate good practice in the integration field and set up networks at European levels,” the commission said. The EU executive also said it was about to publish the new version of a handbook on integration, designed to help member states draw up integration policies. The guidelines would include best practices in improving immigrants’ access to housing and employment in the EU. EU integration ministers meeting in Potsdam, Germany, later this week are expected to discuss ways to improve member states’ cooperation in integration policies and to strengthen the dialogue with other cultures. German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, whose country currently runs the rotating EU presidency, said last week that “achieving full integration and ensuring equal opportunities (of immigrants living in Europe) is one of the most important challenges of EU home affairs policy.” He also said that “intercultural dialogue is particularly important for ensuring stability and internal security, given the growing Muslim population in many (EU) member states.” Schaeuble suggested earlier this year that EU states should train Islamic preachers so they could help integrate Muslims into European society rather than promote separation.