Ch 6. Best practices
A card about Belgium
The examples of best practices proposed in the Belgian national report online can be classified in two categories.
- The initiatives and activities of the federal, regional and local authorities.
A few examples : the federal campaigns of the Centre pour l’égalité des chances et de lutte contre le racisme / Centre for the equality of opportunity and the fight against racism, the LCO programme (language and culture of origin) in the schools of the French-speaking community, the Centres régionaux d’intégration / Regional integration centres in Wallonia (see on this topic)
- The initiatives and activities of private organizations.
A few examples: the non-profit-making organization GRAPPA, the CIRE (Coordination et initiatives pour réfugiés étrangers: www.cire.be/ Coordination and initiatives for foreign refugees)
A card about Switzerland
In Switzerland, the stated objective of immigrant integration policy is "living together peacefully and offering equal opportunities to all." But like many countries, achieving and defining successful integration remains difficult. The federal government has taken a leadership role on immigrant integration since the late 1990s but has delegated most of the day-to-day integration and naturalization processes to its cantons and municipalities. This delegation is typical of the way governance takes place in Switzerland, with its strong federal system that puts most responsibility in the hands of local authorities. In 2008, the federal government allocated 14 million Swiss francs (US$13 million) for its integration promotion program. The federal government also spends 30 million to 40 million Swiss francs per year (US$28 million to US$37 million) in lump-sum payments to cantons for the integration of refugees and individuals with temporary residency permits.
The 1999 Integration Article, part of the Act on Foreign Nationals, was the first major revision of Swiss immigration law since 1931. Several factors contributed to the law's passage, particularly a peak in immigration from the Balkans following conflicts in the former Yugoslavia as well as Switzerland's signing of bilateral accords in June 1999 with the European Union regarding Free Movement of Persons (voters approved the measure in May 2000). The government also sought to improve economic integration with access to the labour market. The 1999 legislation codified practices that had been informally in place throughout the 1990s. Under the 2007 Ordinance on the Integration of Foreigners, part of the Foreign Nationals Act approved in 2006, the Swiss federal government laid out stricter federal guidelines for the integration process of non-EU/EFTA citizens (integration policies do not apply to EU/EFTA citizens as codified by EU standards for the Free Movement of Persons).
The most important measures of integration, according to the ordinance, are mastery of a Swiss national language (German, French, Italian, or Romansch) and the speaking of that language in the home. Other measures include understanding of Swiss social life and structures, Swiss laws and the legal system, and matters of respect when living in a community. The 2007 law also mandates that immigrants show good integration in the labour market and make efforts to improve their skills and qualifications. Under the ordinance, local authorities responsible for implementing integration policies are required to support immigrants in meeting these requirements, for example by providing foreigners with information about language and training courses. A 2008 pilot program in Zurich and Basel had immigrants sign an "integration contract" that stipulates their participation in an intensive integration program and language course in exchange for an extension or granting of a Swiss residency permit. Eighty immigrants participated in the pilot program; in Zurich, applications for participation exceeded the number of available places.
Cantons are not required to integrate their foreigners on entirely local funds. The 2007 ordinance stipulates that the federal government will pay cantons a quarterly sum of 6,000 Swiss francs (about US$5,000) per refugee or immigrant with provisional legal residency, which excludes most asylum seekers. The funds are intended for professional training and language courses. Of the 6,000 Swiss francs, 80 percent is deposited at the beginning of the quarter and the remaining 20 percent is awarded upon review of results of the local authority's integration practices. In addition to local governments, non-profit organizations also provide some language courses and vocational training at no or low cost.