Creating the Conditions for the Economic Social Political and Cultural Inclusion of Migrant Workers and their Families in Ireland
Integration is a term that has become both popular and controversial in recent times. On the one hand, it is deemed necessary for social cohesion and the successful integration of migrant workers is seen as an essential component in achieving economic growth and stability. On the other hand, attempts to define what an ‘integration policy’ should look like has proven problematic. In many European States integration is being discussed in the context of a discernable shift in political discourse towards notions of monoculturalism and reluctance to accept cultural and ethnic diversity within Europe. The introduction of much contested ‘integration tests’ in some European countries and the self-admitted failure of multiculturalism in places, such as the UK and France are examples of ongoing issues that have generated much recent debate on the future of integration.
The term integration itself can mean different things and has been interpreted differently in many European counties. The EU’s Common Basic Principles (CBP) on integration have emphasised that integration is a, “dynamic, two-way process of mutual accommodation by all immigrants and residents of Member States.”
The Irish Government has committed itself to developing an ‘integration strategy’ within an intercultural framework. It too defines integration as a two-way process, “that places duties and obligations on both cultural and ethnic minorities and the State to create a more inclusive society.”
While such definitions are useful in terms of positioning integration as a two-way process that places demands and responsibilities on both the host country and immigrants, they say little about what is really required in order to make integration a reality.