The second workshop on the development of the Mediterranean network for Migration (іMnet) entitled “Immigrant Integration in Italy: Policies, Practices and Actors in Comparative Perspective” was held in Rome, on Friday, 22 March 2013. The workshop was organized by the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP) in collaboration with the Harokopio University of Athens and the National Centre for Social Research.  The event was hosted at Centro Convegni “PALESTRO” (Via Palestro, 24, Roma) in English and Italian.

The aim of the workshop was to discuss innovative policies of migrant integration, to evaluate cooperation schemes among stakeholders, and identify best practices in the field of integration in Italy. This workshop was the second in a series of five workshops aiming at collecting material and exchanging information regarding integration policies in the member-states of Southern Europe: Greece, Italy, Spainand Portugal.  The Workshop was organized in the framework of a project entitled: “Developing a cooperation network to link representatives of Mediterranean Member States facing similar challenges as Greece in respect to the integration of third country nationals” (iMnet), financed through the European Integration Fund (EU funds (75%) and national funds (25%). Annual Programme 2011, Priority 4: “Exchange experience, good practice and information on integration between the member states”, Action 4.1/11: “Building Cooperation Networks in the field of migration and integration”.

The workshop’s thematic articulation aimed at covering basic aspects of immigrants’ integration, especially in relation to the economic, socio-political and cultural dimensions. The morning sessions incorporated three themes related to policy and practice of migrants’ integration inItaly, in respect to the labour market, socio-political participation and representation, and the role of Media. The afternoon session was devoted to representatives of immigrant communities.

In conclusion, the workshop highlighted the peculiarities of the Italian case concerning the differentiation between the national policy framework on migration and integration and the policies adopted at the local/regional level. The former seems to be characterized by a rich but rather inconsistent and fragmented institutional framework, while the second presents variations among different regional and local authorities. Moreover, the experience of the social integration processes of immigrants inItaly, as well as the implementation of relevant policies should be seen in the light of the general differences between the Italian North and South, both in relation to the culture of public administration, and with respect to the labor market and the wider social structures and relationships. Finally, the spectrum of the economic crisis and its consequences is something that should also be considered.

In relation to innovative policies, it is worth noting the recent effort for the creation of a public system to monitor the labor market in order to balance labour demand and supply, which provides for identifying immigrants’ skills and knowledge of the Italian language. In the field of good practices, the transnational experience of the organization Soleterre was presented, in projects which provide information services and social support to domestic workers of migrant origin at the local level, both in the country of origin and in Italy. Worth mentioning are also the intercultural activities of the Public Library of Rome. Interesting is of course the work of the multicultural media platform. Finally, it is useful to see that the Immigrant Integration Councils have been established since 2005 at the Italian municipalities, while in Greece they were only recently introduced

You can download its programme and find more information here.