Allowing refugees and asylum seekers to work in their host countries not only helps to restore their human dignity, but also reduces strain on public budgets by turning them into taxpayers, says a non-binding resolution voted on Tuesday. Inclusion schemes should nonetheless emphasise language learning and pay attention to local unemployment rates, especially among young people, it adds.
The text, drafted by Brando Benifei (S&D, IT), notes that procedures for granting asylum and labour market conditions differ markedly across the EU, and also that refugees have a wide variety of ages, education, skills and abilities to work.
Social inclusion schemes should therefore aim to be a dynamic, two-way process between refugees and host communities, in which all partners have rights and duties, while the process itself adapts to the situation on the ground, says the text, which was approved by 486 votes to 189, with 28 abstentions..
Yes to jobs - but no to wage dumping
Access for refugees and asylum seekers to labour market, housing, health care, education and social protection restores their human dignity and self-worth. Employment enables them to become economically independent and also to give something back to society by becoming taxpayers. To get them started as soon as possible, it is crucial to assess their skills early and fairly, as well as recognising and validating their qualifications, say MEPs.
Since youth and long-term unemployment are still at alarming levels in some countries and regions, assistance to refugees and asylum seekers should not be financed at the expense of programmes for other disadvantaged groups. Instead, it needs additional funding, say MEPs. They oppose the idea of creating special labour markets for refugees and argue that the national minimum wage should also apply to refugees.
Language learning - crucial step into a new environment
Speaking the language of the host country plays an essential role in the successful integration. MEPs recommend that member states should offer a job-language training system, closely linking general and vocational language training.
Fighting xenophobia and teaching European values
The resolution stresses that the fight against all forms of discrimination, xenophobia and racism should be stepped up. On the other hand, refugees should have access to orientation courses on fundamental EU rights and values and social inclusiveness, including courses on European fundamental rights, values and culture, it says.
Procedure: Non-legislative resolution 2015/2321(INI)