One-Stop Shop: a new answer for immigrant integration
Sana Malhoa Hotel
Lisbon, 6 February 2009
The Final Conference of the INTI Project: “One-Stop Shop: A New Answer for Immigrant Integration” will take place in Lisbon at the Sana Malhoa Hotel on 6 February 2009. The Conference will be attended by Ministers, Government representatives, academics and representatives of civil society from throughout the European Union. At the Conference, the final results of the project will be announced and disseminated, including the launch of the Handbook on How to Implement a One-Stop Shop for Immigrant Integration.
The “One-Stop Shop: A New Answer for Immigrant Integration” Project (JLS/2006/INTI/148) runs from September 2007 to February 2009 and is funded by the EU-INTI programme. The Project is coordinated by the High Commission for Immigration and Intercultural Dialogue (ACIDI, I.P.) in Lisbon, Portugal and involves the partners Network Migration in Europe, e.V. in Berlin, the Hellenic Migration Policy Institute in Athens, the General-Directorate of Immigration in Rome, the General-Directorate of Immigrant Integration in Madrid, the Immigrant Council of Ireland in Dublin, the International Organization for Migration – Mission in Portugal and the Institute for Migration and Ethnic Studies at the University of Amsterdam. This international project involves stakeholders at local, national and EU level in examining the feasibility and developing a handbook on the implementation of the One-Stop Shop (OSS) model for immigrant integration.
The management of the integration of immigrants in the European Union is one of the most challenging responsibilities that most Member States are facing today. In relation to immigrant communities, different Member States share several common difficulties that often compromise the consistent integration of immigrants. To be more precise, among the problems most often cited are:
the range of institutions involved in the integration process, the lack of cooperation between government services and their dispersed locations, the diversity of procedures, complex bureaucracy, communication difficulties as a result of cultural and linguistic diversity, and the difficulties of achieving immigrant participation in decision-making.
Aiming to confront these challenges and define proposals for concrete measures, the European Commission, in the Common Agenda for Integration (COM 2005: 389), defined as priorities strengthening the capacity of public and private service providers to interact with third-country nationals via intercultural interpretation and translation, mentoring, mediation services by immigrant communities, "one-stop-shop" information points and building sustainable organisational structures for integration and diversity management. The Commission also stressed the necessity for developing modes of co-operation between stakeholders enabling officials to exchange information and pool resources (Common Basic Principle 6).
The integration of, and cooperation between, different public services, previously located in different places and working according to different schedules, together with the creation of new services to cater for the concrete needs of immigrants, is a fundamental response to the arrival of newcomers and the settlement of permanent immigrants. Taking as an example the Portuguese experience, the participation of cultural mediators is fundamental to this innovative OSS model.
These mediators guarantee not only a cultural and linguistic proximity to each immigrant accessing the services of these one-stop shops, but also provide an essential link between public administration and immigrants. Furthermore, the participation of civil society institutions as partners in the management of this project can bring important outcomes, as the development of immigrant integration policies becomes a shared responsibility.
The One-Stop Shop Project had its third official Steering Committee meeting in Athens on 5 June 2008, hosted by the Hellenic Migration Policy Institute. At the meeting, the Committee discussed the final versions of the national Country Reports, the results and inputs of the national Advisory Committee meetings and the proposed structure for the main project outcome, the Handbook on How to Implement a One-Stop Shop.
The Minutes of the third Steering Committee Meeting are available here.