Doc. 9938

27 September 2003

Situation of young migrants in Europe
Recommendation 1596 (2003)

Reply from the Committee of Ministers

adopted at the 853rd meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies (24 September 2003)

1.       The Committee of Ministers has studied with great interest Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1596 (2003) on the situation of young migrants in Europe and has brought it to the attention of member states. At the same time it has communicated it to the Advisory Council on Youth, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), the Ad hoc Committee of Experts on Legal Aspects of Territorial Asylum, Refugees and Stateless Persons (CAHAR) and the Council of Europe Development Bank, for information.

2.       The Committee of Ministers agrees with the Assembly that the situation of young migrants deserves specific action on the part of the Council of Europe aimed at improving their current situation and consequently at enhancing social cohesion in member states.

3.       The issue of migration is one of the most important issues in the Council of Europe’s current political agenda. At the Ministerial Conference in Helsinki, in September 2002, the European Ministers responsible for Migration Affairs called for a long term perspective on migration and for the elaboration and promotion of integration policies based on the conclusions of their Final declaration and the relevant Council of Europe texts. The Committee of Ministers has instructed the European Committee on Migration (CDMG) to take this into account in its future work.

4.       Furthermore, the CDMG will devote day two of its next meeting in December 2003 to workshops on innovative integration programmes and day three to a political dialogue with counties of origin and transit which are not member states of the Council of Europe. Should the dialogue be institutionalised on a regular basis, this political platform may be used to devise a programme of activities in partnership with sending and transit countries to effectively implement the Council of Europe strategy for the orderly management of migration. This strategy strongly supports measures to integrate migrants as an essential aspect of the successful management of flows. The Committee of Ministers has also invited its Rapporteur Group on Social and Health Questions and the relevant Steering committees to analyse a proposal to elaborate a Council of Europe legal instrument on migration issues.

5.       Comments on the specific measures advocated by the Assembly, which are in many ways, in line with the activities of the Council of Europe, are included in Appendix 1.

Appendix 1

Comments on the specific measures advocated by the Assembly

With regard to paragraph 4ii (participation of young migrants), the Committee of Ministers recognises that encouraging participation of young migrants in social, economic, political and cultural life will contribute to mutual understanding. The importance of citizenship and the role of education for the integration of young migrants are taken into account in youth sector activities, and for a number of years, the Directorate for Youth and Sport has organised training courses for minority youth leaders, largely issued from migrant communities. As a result, the statutory bodies of the youth sector will submit a draft recommendation, for adoption by the Committee of Ministers, on how to improve participation of youth leaders from minorities in public life. Furthermore, comments by the Advisory Council on Youth on Recommendation 1596 (2003) are included in Appendix 2.

With regard to paragraph 4iii (funding projects), the Committee of Ministers refers the Assembly to the comments of the Council of Europe Development Bank in Appendix 3 to this reply.

With regard to paragraph 4iv (legal status), the Committee of Ministers will invite the CDMG to initiate a study to review the implementation of Recommendation Rec(2000)15 of the Committee of Ministers to member states concerning the security of residence of long-term migrants and Recommendation Rec(2002)4 on the legal status of persons admitted for family reunification, with special regard to protection against expulsion of migrants who were born or raised in Council of Europe member states or who are minors.

With respect to paragraphs 4v, 5ii and 5iii (nationality), the Committee of Ministers draws the attention of the Assembly to the fact that when preparing its report on "Condition for the Acquisition and Loss of Nationality" as referred to in paragraph 4v, the Committee of Experts on Nationality (CJ-NA) in particular took account of the previous Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1500 (2001) on the participation of immigrants and foreign residents in political life in the Council of Europe’s member states. This study of the nationality legislation in member states has shown that there might be a need for considering whether further guidance is required to member states with a view to making their nationality legislation more flexible and adequate to the needs of immigrants and foreign residents. In particular, it would be useful to assess the possibility of further rules for the acquisition and loss of nationality in addition to those already contained in the European Convention on Nationality. The areas identified where there might be a need for further guidance include matters relating to integration and nationality of immigrants such as the need to assist the integration of foreigners in their new country of residence, easing the procedures for children to acquire a State’s nationality in order to encourage and stimulate their integration into the State, the degree of knowledge required of the State’s language, constitution, laws, history, etc. in order to be naturalised, the acquisition of nationality by second generation children of immigrants and the nationality of children in particular children born to foreign parents lawfully and habitually resident in a State. The acquisition of a nationality by children was considered by the CJ-NA as an area of particular importance. For this reason, "Nationality and the Child" was selected as the general theme for the 3rd European Conference on Nationality. Among the topics to be dealt with at the Conference is the child's acquisition of the nationality of his/her country of immigration and whether to consider this as a means of integration. The Parliamentary Assembly is invited to contribute to the discussion at the Conference scheduled to take place in October 2004.

With respect to paragraph 4vi (binding instrument on legal guardianship), the Committee of Ministers recalls that the question of granting children procedural rights in relation to proceedings before a judicial authority affecting them – including issues related to the appointment of a special representative - is now dealt with in the European Convention on the Exercise of Children’s Rights of 25 January 1996 (Articles 4 and 5).

Furthermore, the Committee of Ministers agrees with the Assembly's view that a child's safety is increased if a legal guardian is rapidly appointed, thereby ensuring not only the child’s legal representation but also that the child is immediately properly looked after, which could reduce his or her risk of falling into the hands of prostitution, trafficking or other criminal rings by providing the child with a healthy environment in which he or she can feel safe. In this respect, Recommendation No. R (91) 11 concerning sexual exploitation, pornography and prostitution of, and trafficking in, children and young adults draws the attention of member states to the fact that surveillance should be increased by immigration authorities and frontier police in order to ensure that travel abroad by children, especially those not accompanied by their parents or their guardian, is not related to trafficking in human beings.

With regard to paragraph 5i (right to vote and stand in local elections), the Committee of Ministers recalls that, under the Convention on the participation of foreigners in public life at local level, each Party undertakes to grant to every foreign resident the right to vote and to stand for election in local authority elections, provided that he fulfils the same legal requirements as apply to nationals and has been a lawful and habitual resident in the State concerned for the 5 years preceding the elections (Article 6). Furthermore, the Recommendation Rec(2001)19 on the participation of citizens in local public life recommends to member states to encourage the active participation of foreigners (foreigners are equated to nationals for the purpose of the recommendation) in the life of the local community on a non-discriminatory basis, by complying with the provisions contained in the Council of Europe’s Convention on the participation of foreigners in public life at local level, even when its provisions are not legally binding on states, or, at least, by drawing inspiration from the mechanisms referred to in this Convention. The impact of these two legal instruments has been examined in an international conference which was held in Fuerteventura (Canary Islands, Spain) on 12-14 December 2002 and is currently under review by the Steering Committee on Local and Regional Democracy, which could devise a set of measures meant at increasing the number of ratifications of the convention and at fostering the impact of the recommendation.

Concerning paragraph 5iv (guidelines for the integration programmes), the Committee of Ministers notes that the Assembly recommendation is in line with the Council of Europe integration policy published in 2000 in the report “Diversity and Cohesion: new challenges for the integration of immigrants and minorities in Europe”, in particular regarding the principles enumerated in 5iv c (participation), d (language and education), f (young migrants with dependants) and g (personal development). The Committee of Ministers recalls that this report and its implementation tool “Framework for integration policies” (2000) have been translated into several languages and are widely used at the national level to elaborate national integration programmes. The Committee of Ministers also refers to the Convention on the participation of foreigners in public life at local level, which institutes, inter alia, the obligation for Parties to ensure that reasonable efforts are made to involve foreign residents in public inquiries, planning procedures and other processes of consultation on local matters (Art. 3), to ensure that there are no obstacles to prevent the setting up of consultative bodies of foreign residents, to encourage and facilitate the establishment of such consultative bodies (Article 5) and to endeavour to ensure that information is available to foreign residents concerning their rights and obligations in relation to local public life (Article 8). Furthermore, the Recommendation Rec(2001)19 sets up the basic principles which should be the basis of local democratic participation policies and the steps and measures to be taken in order to encourage and reinforce citizens’ participation in local public life.

Concerning paragraph 5ivd (language learning), the Committee of Ministers points out that the Council of Europe is currently backing the development of a European Language Portfolio for migrants. The portfolio is a personal document used in formal learning contexts for the purposes of learning the language of the host country with a view to integration and employment. It also provides a unique opportunity to ensure recognition and enhancement of the mother tongue, which can be recorded and presented in the portfolio. Specific portfolios have been developed for use by children and adults in many different countries. The European Centre for Modern Languages has also launched a project to assist migrants in acquiring language skills for their work.

The Committee of Ministers draws attention to several recommendations deriving from the work on language policies in the Council of Europe. They include Recommendation No. R (82) 18 to member states concerning modern languages, which contains a lengthy section on language learning for migrants and their families1; Recommendation No. R (98) 6 of the Committee of Ministers to member states concerning modern languages, which recommends promoting bilingualism in immigrant areas or neighbourhoods and supporting immigrants in learning the language of the area in which they reside.

Concerning paragraph 6 (Education), the Committee of Ministers underlines that the recommendation is completely in line with the educational policy which the Council of Europe has been promoting for several decades. In 1976 the Council of Europe began addressing this matter, and a report on “Pre-school education for migrants’ children” was published the same year (Berlin Symposium, 1976). In 1979, special

intercultural teacher training files were drawn up on socio-cultural data on countries of origin and receiving countries, and on the socio-cultural situation of migrants and their families. Two courses were organised on “Intercultural training for teachers” (Lisbon, 1981 and L’Aquila, 1982). Seminars on the same subject were organised in Donaueschingen in 1979, 1980 and 1981. CDCC Project No. 7, “Education and the cultural development of migrants”, has given rise to several case studies, study visits, colloquies, surveys and reports, as well as seminars for disseminating the results and publications2. The new project currently in hand, “The new intercultural challenge to education: religious diversity and dialogue in Europe” is aimed at alerting decision-makers, specialised youth workers and teachers to the implications of the religious dimension of intercultural education, but also to draw their attention to the most useful experiments and new methods and approaches in intercultural education in general, whether inside or outside the schools.

The Committee of Ministers has adopted several recommendations on the education of young migrants in Europe, which have stemmed from various educational programmes. Three recommendations are particularly germane to Assembly Recommendation 1596 (2003). They are: Recommendation No. R (84) 18 on “the training of teachers in education for intercultural understanding, notably in a context of migration”, the content of which has retained all its topicality since it proposes making “the intercultural dimension and the understanding between different communities a feature of initial and in-service teacher-training” and encouraging, “where appropriate, (…) the holding of national and international seminars and courses on the intercultural approach to education for teachers, teacher trainers, administrators and other persons involved in teacher-training, including welfare and labour officers who have close professional relations with migrant families”; Recommendation No. R (84) 7 on “the maintenance of migrants’ cultural links with their countries of origin and leisure facilities”; and Recommendation No. R (84) 9 to member states on “Second-generation migrants”. The last of the three texts comprises very full provisions on education and culture which are very much in line with the Assembly’s proposals3.

With regard to paragraph 7iii (detention of minors on immigration grounds), the Committee of Ministers draws the Assembly’s attention to the recently adopted Recommendation Rec(2003)5 of the Committee of Ministers on measures of detention of asylum seekers. This recommendation provides for guarantees of treatment to asylum seekers who are subject to detention by reason of their illegal entry or presence in search of asylum or for other relevant reasons linked to their asylum request. Paragraphs 20 to 23 of Recommendation Rec(2003)5 address the specific situation of minors. Paragraph 22 and 23 are of particular interest as these paragraphs are fully in line with the content of paragraph 7iii. They provide as follows: “22. If minors are detained, they must not be held under prison-like conditions. Every effort must be made to release them from detention as quickly as possible and place them in other accommodation. If this proves impossible, special arrangements must be made which are suitable for children and their families”. “23. For unaccompanied minor asylum seekers, alternative and non-custodial care arrangements, such as residential homes or foster placements, should be arranged and, where provided for by national legislation, legal guardians should be appointed, within the shortest possible time”.

Concerning paragraph 7vi (placement in appropriate reception centres), the Committee of Ministers recalls Resolution (77) 33 on the placement of children that provides that arrangements made for the child “should try to ensure the highest possible degree of satisfaction of his developing emotional needs and his physical well-being as well as any preventive medical, educational or other care necessary to meet any special problems he may have”.

With regard to paragraph 7xb (no return possible before a legal guardian for the child has been appointed), the Committee of Ministers notes with satisfaction that national legislation of some of the member states of the Council of Europe already provides for the prohibition of return of minors before a legal guardian has been appointed and is satisfied that the return corresponds to the best interest of the child ( e.g. Belgium, see “Loi programme du 24 décembre 2002, “Chapitre 6 –Tutelle des mineurs étrangers non-accompagnés” – M.B, 31.12.02).

With regard to paragraph 7xc (opinion of the child), the Committee of Ministers recalls that, in accordance with Article 6 (b) and (c) of the European Convention on the exercise of children’s rights, in proceedings affecting a child, the judicial authority, before taking a decision, should take into consideration the child’s opinion if he or she is considered to have sufficient understanding.

With regard to paragraph 7xh (treatment of minors during return), the Committee of Ministers recalls that in its reply to Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1547 (2002) on expulsion procedures in conformity with human rights and enforced with respect for safety and dignity, the Committee of Ministers express its support to the idea put forward by the Assembly to draw up a code of good conduct for expulsion procedures. “This would make it possible to lay down the various guidelines developed by different bodies within the Council of Europe in one pragmatic text to be used by governments when developing national legislation and regulations on the subject”. The Committee of Ministers has requested one of its existing intergovernmental expert committees to carry out this work.

With regard to paragraph 8 (trafficking), the Committee of Ministers draws the Assembly’s attention to the fact that a European Convention on action against trafficking in human beings is being drafted. This Convention will pursue the United Nations achievements in this field in a European context and be based on the definition agreed upon in the Protocol to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in persons, especially women and children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against transnational organised crime (Palermo Protocol). This Convention is going to be a practical tool of international co-operation to effectively fight this phenomenon. A multidisciplinary committee (the CAHTEH) has just been set up for that purpose and will start meeting as from mid-September 2003. The CAHTEH is expected to complete the drafting process of the Convention before the end of 2004.

With regard to paragraphs 8ii and 8iii (counselling and assistance), the Committee of Ministers refers to Recommendation Rec(2001)16 on the protection of children against sexual exploitation, that encourages member states to “develop and financially support a multi-agency and multi-disciplinary approach to the prevention and identification of sexual exploitation of children and to provide psychological, legal, social or any other form of appropriate support or treatment to the victims, paying particular attention to high-risk groups” (see Part II General measures, (c) Prevention, identification and assistance).

With regard to paragraph 8iv (reintegration programmes), a reference to Recommendation Rec(2001)16 is also appropriate. In Part V of the recommendation the Committee of Ministers encourages member states to “give priority to educational programmes, including vocational training, and reintegration programmes, aimed at children”.

Furthermore, the Final Report of the Audit on the protection of children against sexual exploitation, prepared by the Group of Specialists on the protection of children against sexual exploitation (PC-S-ES) points to the current lacunae existing in the field of the re-integration of victims: “…the development of and regulation of measures to ensure the full recovery and reintegration of victims of sexual exploitation is inhibited by the lack of systematic assessment and analysis of the special needs of victims as well as of their rights to special protection measures.”

With regard to paragraph 8v (information campaign), Recommendation Rec(2001)16, encourages member states to: “organise information campaigns in order to increase public awareness of high risk situations that may lead to organised trafficking in children, mainly girls” (see Part VI).

With regard to paragraph 8vi (training), Recommendation Rec(2001)16, encourages states to: “promote and organise programmes aimed at furthering awareness and training for those who are responsible for children in the fields of education, health, social welfare, justice as well as law enforcement agencies in order to enable them to identify cases of sexual exploitation and to take the necessary measures” (see in Part II General measures, under (a) public awareness, education and information).

Appendix 2

Opinion of the Advisory Council on Youth

on Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1596 (2003)

on the situation of young migrants in Europe

1.        The Advisory Council is of the view that Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1596 (2003) on the situation of young migrants in Europe to be of great importance. Young migrants represent a variety of groups in terms of cultural / geographical / religious backgrounds. They also differ according to their migration status:

-       First generation migrants who emigrated with their families;

-       First generation unaccompanied young migrants;

-       Second/third generation young migrants.

These various groups have one common trait: they belong to two or more country's cultures and traditions. This peculiarity of young migrants’ background should be seen as a richness for European societies. Multicultural Europe is a reality where young migrants represent a clear example of this reality.

2.        With regard to paragraph 4 IV, the Advisory Council supports the need for special regard for the protection against deportation of migrants who are born or raised in Council of Europe member states or are minors in age. It is important to extend this protection to young migrants who hold a permit of residence for minor age reasons, in order to avoid their deportation after a process of education and integration in the host country.

3.        As far as paragraph 4 V-VI is concerned, the Advisory Council highlights the importance of citizenship for the integration of young migrants in European societies. Citizenship is an essential tool for participation, because by voting and standing for elections, young migrants have the possibility to be active and participate in the process of changes within the society in which they live.

4.        The Advisory Council supports the idea of adopting in Council of Europe member states a legal framework for the appointment of a legal guardian for separated young migrants. It thus proposes that the guardian should also be chosen in accordance with the migrant community's needs. Cultural mediators, community leaders and social workers from a migrant background are valuable resources in the integration of unaccompanied young migrants in societies. The above-mentioned can act as a link between the young migrants and the various institutions, and be a precious support for their integration in both community and the hosting society.

5.        As regard to paragraph 5, the Advisory Council highlights the importance of establishing special integration programs addressed to all young migrants in order to promote their active citizenship, and empower them in their integration process.

6.       The Advisory Council emphasizes the role of education for integration of young migrants in European societies; therefore, it would like to point out the relevance of this matter as the starting point of all integration processes. It would thus highlight the following:

-       In a multicultural Europe it is necessary to ensure educational programs in which all students can identify themselves. It is important to ensure that school curricula include multiculturalism and pluralism, avoiding any national and ethnic prejudices, or ethnocentric interpretation of history;

-       Mother languages and cultures should be included in a multicultural educational system, in order to help young migrants not to lose the language and culture of their country of origin, which are essential resources for the identity and integration of migrants in Europe.

7.       The Advisory Council endorses the recommendations contained in paragraph 8 and highlights the importance of signing and ratifying the existing international instruments applicable to trafficking in children and young people, especially young women. In particular the Advisory Council recommends:

-       The implementation of programmes aimed at assisting traumatized young victims of trafficking;

-       The allocation of financial resources to support programmes of prevention of human trafficking in the countries of origin of young people, such as: information campaigns in schools and other places of socialization or care, training social workers and youth leaders;

-       The provision of training for officers, border police and immigration officials in the member states on international legal frameworks applying to trafficking, as well as intercultural awareness;

-       Support to initiatives of international organisations and NGOs active in the prevention of trafficking in Europe and in the country of origin of the victims.

Appendix 3

Comments of the Council of Europe Development Bank

The Governing Board took note of Recommendation 1596 (2003) and in particular of point 4.iii, encouraging member states to submit projects to the Council of Europe Development Bank, with a view to funding or co-funding integration projects for young migrants in host countries, as well as reintegration projects for young migrants returning to their countries of origin, in particular young victims of trafficking.

Aid to migrants and refugees is a statutory a priority of the CEB. Since 1956 the CEB approved almost 4.3 billion euros of loans designed to finance projects related to support actions for refugees and other measures for the management of population movements in 15 countries of operation.

The CEB also finances investment projects related to social housing, health and education, rural modernisation, job creation in SMEs and vocational training that might facilitate the integration of migrants returning to their countries of origin or their sustainable integration in the host societies. In particular, during the last five years the CEB has approved about 950 million euro in loans for education and 220 million euro of loans related to vocational training, which benefit mostly the young people.

In November 2002 the CEB’s Governing Board held an extraordinary meeting dedicated to migration issues, which emphasised the importance of this field of financing for the Bank.


1 D. Language learning by migrants and their families

10. To promote the provision of adequate facilities for migrant workers and the members of their families:

10.1. to acquire sufficient knowledge of the language of the host community for them to play an active part in the working, political and social life of that community, and in particular to enable the children of migrants to acquire a proper education and to prepare them for the transition from full-time education to work;

10.2. to develop their mother tongues both as educational and cultural instruments and in order to maintain and improve their links with their culture of origin.

2 See eg “Migrants in Europe: What educational and cultural future?” by M R Benattig.

3 Where education and culture are concerned, Recommendation No. R (84) 9 advises governments to:

a. promote, as far as possible, the education and cultural development of second-generation migrants, acting when appropriate in bilateral co-operation;

b. recognise the importance of intercultural education in teaching;

d. encourage the co-ordination of educational objectives and, as far as possible, the mutual recognition of study and training undertaken in other countries to facilitate mobility;

e. promote the development of coherent policies in the educational, social and cultural fields, according to second-generation migrants’ needs…;

In the receiving country:

g. promote the socio-occupational integration of young migrants through the educational system;

h. give full value to the culture of the parents’ country of origin by integrating (…) the teaching of the language and culture of the country of origin into ordinary school curricula;

i. …

In the country of origin:

l. consider means and take appropriate measures to help young returning migrants or their families to reintegrate … in such a way that they can make the best use of the cultural, linguistic and social experience acquired abroad.