Brno Council Adopts New Strategy For Integrating Foreigners
Developed over three years by a working group involving many different stakeholders, the strategy aims to ensure the integration of foreigners into mainstream society, and hopes to prevent future problems, or at least solve them in good time. Research suggests that well-designed integration policies can minimize the risks and maximize the benefits of migration for cities. Photo credit: KK / BD.
Brno, Sep 11 (BD) – Brno is attempting to develop a brand as a growing international city of thriving innovation, to attract foreign students, academic researchers, and highly-skilled professionals. The number of foreigners in the city has been growing steadily, and with this in mind, Brno city councillors have approved a new Strategy for the Integration of Foreigners for 2020-2026.
The strategy aims to ensure the integration of foreigners into mainstream society, focusing on education for both children and adults, so they can become economically self-sufficient and develop neighborly relations. The plan hopes to prevent future problems, or at least solve them in good time. It has been developed over the last three years with oversight from the City of Brno’s Advisory Committee for the Integration of Foreigners, which included representatives of the city, the region and the academic and non-profit sectors.
“At the moment, this is a relatively general document, which will be developed through three-year action plans. These will include concrete steps and measures to help us achieve the desired goal of creating a tolerant Brno: an international, safe and cohesive city which unites us,” said Marek Fiser, Brno Council Member for Culture and the chair of the advisory committee. The first action plan should be ready by the end of 2020.
The main target group of the strategy is foreigners legally residing in Brno, as well as the general public, employers, and public institutions such as schools. It will help, for example, with communication between foreign residents and these institutions, so that foreign residents know and can follow the rules and procedures in place. As part of improving the information available, the city will collect data to serve as an objective basis for refuting disinformation that is circulating in public.
In the Czech Republic, only Prague has adopted a similar plan, though according to Fiser, it is common practice abroad. “However, cities are often reacting to the fact that the long-neglected issue of integration has caused social and security problems that need to be addressed. In Brno, we want to be one step ahead,” added Fiser. He points to research suggesting that well-designed integration policies can minimize the risks and maximize the benefits of migration. “Of course cities do not create policy on migration, it is a matter for the state. But they are the first to encounter its impacts and consequences, and if those are negative, cities are forced to deal with them.”
A total of 150 participants from a wide range of organizations, such as municipal, regional and state authorities, schools and health facilities, universities, employers, social services, security forces, political parties and non-profit organizations, participated in the creation of the document. The process was primarily financed via a subsidy from the Czech Ministry of the Interior to support the local integration of foreigners in municipalities. The city contributed 10% of the cost.