Political Participation of Third Country Nationals on National and Local Level in 3 EU Countries

The goal of the project was to find an answer to the question – whether Latvia, Estonia and Poland are going in the right direction with fulfilling the promise to make their societies more welcoming towards migrants, in particular, by providing and establishing opportunities for immigrants to participate in political and social life of the country? This was achieved via analysing:

– the existing forms of political participation for immigrants in the selected countries (legislation and experience) with regard to issues like the rights to join and create non-governmental organisations, trade unions and political parties, voting rights and consultation mechanisms for policies affecting migrants. This part of research included interviews with immigrant NGOs and/or other civil society organisations fostering the political participation of immigrants or seeking to promote their rights to political participation in the country. High-level representatives of political parties making up the government coalition in each country were also interviewed regarding the openness/exclusiveness of the general political environment in the country towards the political participation of immigrants

– the projects implemented via the European Fund for the integration of the Third Country Nationals (whether these EU funds implemented via member states but accepted by the European Commission actually address the political participation of immigrants, or the majority of the projects look at immigrants as persons in need of services).

The countries’ performance was measured against the best practices in the EU according to the Migrant Integration Policy Index(MIPEX) that compares all EU countries’ legislation on immigrant integration.

Based on 4 national reports a comparative report was published. The findings and recommendations were discussed in national debates in each country and described in 4 national policy briefs. An advocacy event in Brussels was used to disseminate the comparative research and a policy brief focused on the implementation of the European Fund for the integration of the Third Country Nationals.

The basic assumption of the project came from the Common basic principles for immigrant integration policy in the EU (adopted in 2004) that included the principle of political participation. Lisbon Treaty provides the EU with a legal basis to work on immigrant integration, and EU member states have adopted the Stockholm Programme (December 2009) noting that “the objective of granting comparable rights, responsibilities, and opportunities for all is at the core of European cooperation in integration, taking into account the necessity of balancing migrants’ rights and duties”.