The European Web Site on Integration is the European Commission's Portal, under the responsibility of the Directorate-General Home Affairs, for information on Integration. The aim site is to help improve the effectiveness of integration policiesÂ and practices in the European Union by sharing successful strategies and supporting collaboration and cooperation.
EWSI is intended as a tool for people working in the field of integration, both in non-government andÂ government organisations.
EWSI provides stakeholders with content organised as follows:
- A broad range of information and documents relevant to immigrant integration: official and up-to-date EU information; documents (legislation, policy papers, articles, etc); news; events; links.
- An impressive collection of good practices.
- Information on funding opportunities for integration practitioners: EU funding opportunities; funding programmes run by Member States; and by private foundations.
- Multilingual content: English, French and German.
- Country information sheets: overview of key information per Member State.
- A powerful search engine.
Information on EWSI is structured around six key themes:
- Active Citizenship: residence and work permits, civic citizenship, naturalisation, political participation, volunteering and third-sector, consultation, mediation and dialogue platforms, civic education;
- Economic Participation: employment, recognition of qualifications and skills assessment, vocational trainingÂ and career development, workforce diversity and capacity-building, self-employment and entrepreneurship, supplier diversity;
- Social Cohesion: housing and urban development, social inclusion, social protection, health, otherÂ services;
- Education and culture: school education, out-of-school education including lifelong learning and distanceÂ education, language competencies, E-learning, intercultural dialogue including interreligiousÂ dialogue, cultural activities and diversity;
- Anti-discrimination and equality: antidiscrimination at work, anti-discrimination in service provision, access to justice, equal opportunities, positive action;Â
- Tools and Techniques: benchmarking, indicators, evaluations and impact assessments, mainstreaming, infrastructure, media, awareness-raising.
The integration of third-country nationals legally residing in the Member States of the European Union (EU) has gained increasing importance on the European agenda in recent years.
The Hague Programme on strengthening freedom, security and justice in the EU, adopted by the European Council in November 2004, called for the development of a "portal on Integration". In that same month, the Groningen Ministerial Conference on Integration invited the Commission, in close cooperation with the National Contact Points on Integration, to establish a public-private partnership to create and maintain an integration portal.
The European Web Site on IntegrationÂ was created to provide a "one-stop-shop" for information and good practices to support the integration of immigrants in all Member States. ItÂ covers all dimensions of integration and gathers information from a wide variety of stakeholders. It has been designed for use by national, regional and local authorities, by civil society organisations, and by practitioners in local organisations. The site also functions as an EU-wide platform for networking on integration, through exchange about policy and practice.
Consultation with stakeholders has been a key part of the development of EWSI. The project has focused on working with European Institutions and with network organisations that have the remit and the means to communicate with practitioner groups in Member States. These include:
- European Institutions: Commission Directorate-General for Home Affairs and other DGs relevant to integration, including Employment and Social Affairs, Education and Culture, Enterprise, Health, Research, etc; the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union, European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions; as well as national governments, represented by the National Contact Points on Integration
- International organisations (e.g. IOM, ILO)
- Regional and local government organisations
- EU civil society organisations: civil society networks, academics and experts, business networks, social partners.
Description of the way to implement the initiative
In December 2006, a consortium including private and non-for-profit institutions was commissioned to build the European Commission's Web Site on Integration.Â
In 2007, the first phase in the development of the EWSI got under way.Â The initial period focused on developing the vision of EWSI, identifying the stakeholders to whichÂ the siteÂ is aimed; and the needs associated with the Web Site in consultation with these stakeholders.Â Collection of content began in earnest and a prototype of the website was designed.
In 2008, stakeholders contributed to the portal; they were invited to participate in the building of EWSI byÂ providing contentÂ such as related documents and good practices. In November 2008, the EWSI was unveiled at the 3rd Ministerial Conference on Integration; EU Member States were called upon to promote the EWSI as the European instrument for knowledge and good practice exchange on integration at the unveiling of the prototype web site during the 3rd Ministerial Conference on Integration held in Vichy
In April 2009 the European Web Site on Integration went live, with the motto 'Integration at your fingertips'.
Since then, the EWSI has operated through a structure that involves a central editorial team as well as a decentralised network of Country Coordinators - one per Member State. Together, the central editorial team and the Country Coordinators form the Web Site's Editorial Board. The Editorial Board benefits from the input of an Advisory Committee, composed of individuals representing the different stakeholders involved in the integration of third-country nationals (academics, social partners, civil society organisations, etc).
Eligibility and selection criteria have been determined for each type of content (documents, news, events, links, funding information, good practices, etc). In addition, quality control mechanisms ensure that content is of the highest possible quality.
Technological choices are determined by the European Commission's technical environment, as well as the Commission's Information Providers Guidelines.
Main results, benefits and impacts
The success of the project is measured by:Â
- Web Site registrations of organisations in different target areas: civil society groups, local government,Â European institutions and Member State agencies.
- Levels of participation in collaborative areas of the Site and number of visitors.
- The breadth of relevant information and document collection available on the Web Site, especially case studies.
In October 2010, one and a half year after its birth, EWSI has uploaded more than 5,100 documents; shared more than 400 integration practices; published more than 1120 news items; announced several hundreds of events, and made more than 4300 links available. New features make it even easier to get involved.
Return on investmentReturn on investment: Not applicable / Not available
Like any website designed to be the focal point of a community (for the EWSI, the community of integration practitioners), the EWSI benefits from a strong editorial presence - both from the central team and the decentralised network of Country Coordinators. Such a website cannot be just a repository of content. This content needs to be edited, which goes far beyond formatting and quality control issues. It is about making the content useful for integration practitioners. In this perspective, the editorial team plans to introduce in 2011 two new functionalities: Special Features and Integration Dossiers. These will make the link between current news and the content stored on the EWSI, and will also identify nascent policy and practice trends.
It is vitally important to promote the EWSI toward governmental and non-governmental integration stakeholders. This includes raising the awareness of the EWSI, but also promoting its use by highlighting the benefits for users to exchange knowledge and information.
Considering that (1) the EWSI is a user-centred website, where users are at the same time the producers and the beneficiaries of website content; and that (2) migration and integration policies are delicate and sensitive topics, it is important to ensure that quality control criteria and procedures are built from the outset.