On 10 May 2007, European home affairs commissioner Franco Frattini met with EU ministers responsible for integration in Potsdam, Germany to discuss the topic of cultural and religious integration of immigrants into the 27-member bloc. Over the next seven years, the European Union plans to provide €825 million to help provide solutions for the issue.
"Integration must be a key part of the EU's legal immigration policy. There can be no immigration without integration," said Frattini at the meeting.
The European Commission has approved twelve projects designed to integrate immigrants into the EU. Funded with €4 million, the projects include initiatives such as trying to alleviate exclusion of migrant communities by educating religious leaders on core European Union values and multicultural environment, as well as providing mediation services designed to provide a bridge between immigrants and their new environment.
Frattini also introduced the second version of the EU's "handbook on integration," written to help European Union authorities draft policies relating to integration.
On 16 May 2007, Frattini is expected to put forth ideas on how to promote seeking legal employment within Europe, and a legislation piece on EU-wide sanctions for companies that hire illegal immigrants from third party nations.
Frattini stated that if an immigrant was contracted to work for two years, "he will be required to learn the local language and the institutional framework of a given country. Those, who stay longer, would have to pass an additional set of requirements prior to receiving permanent residence in a host country."
The European Union is currently battling with twin issues of multicultural integration and an aging population. The need for skilled labor and a healthy working age demographic is considered key to the bloc's future. Immigration is considered a prime source in helping to alleviate labor shortages.
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