Integration Ministers Discuss Refugees from Ukraine

PeopleOther ♦ Published: July 31, 2022; 15:58 ♦ (Vindobona)

The integration ministers of the European Union met for the "European Integration Conference" at Palais Niederösterreich in Vienna. The EU ministers and state secretaries for integration were invited, as well as international organizations that work on migration issues.

On July 28, 2022, Austrian Federal Minister Susanne Raab opened the "European Integration Conference" at Palais Niederösterreich. / Picture: © Bundeskanzleramt (BKA) / Christoper Dunker

The Conference was attended by more than ten Ministers and State Secretaries, as well as representatives of numerous international organizations, focused on Ukrainian refugees. As a result of the Russian Invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022, the conference served as a platform to exchange experiences. During the conference, two working sessions were held: one on best practices and one on looking ahead, while the other was devoted to identifying future challenges.

Plans and systems are to be developed to allow integration systems to remain resilient. The conference also looked back at how well the previously displaced Ukrainians have integrated into Europe and what future challenges Europe will face.

"The return prospects of people are uncertain, so all countries are working on measures of rapid language acquisition, integration into the education system and the labor market," said Integration Minister Susanne Raab (ÖVP) ahead of the conference, which is expected to be attended by representatives from more than ten EU countries.

Among the international organizations represented at the conference was the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD). ICMPD is based in Vienna and works on making migration and mobility of people orderly, safe, and regular, including through the implementation of planned and well-managed migration policies.

ICMPD's Director General Michael Spindelegger stressed in his speech that there is a need for qualified and motivated workers for European labor markets. Every opportunity to utilize all existing potentials has to be used according to Spindelegger. According to Spindelegger, there is also a need in Europe to communicate and teach "the values and fundamental principles of our societies and our legal and political systems."

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 5.74 million Ukrainian refugees were registered in Europe by mid-July 2022. Compared to other countries, they have an easier time entering the EU.

This is ensured by the mass influx directive, which was activated for the first time in the EU. This stipulates that Ukrainian protection seekers do not have to apply for asylum, but are first granted a residence permit for one year and are allowed to work. An extension of up to three years is possible.

Federal Chancellery of Austria

International Centre for Migration Policy Development

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees