New Commission proposals to manage the refugee crisis: Public sector and local administration workers need EU support

Today, the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker held a much-awaited speech in the European Parliament on the state of the union and announced new plans to manage the EU's ongoing refugee and migration challenge more successfully. He proposed both an emergency and a permanent common crisis relocation mechanism for refugees. As a trade union confederation representing numerous public sector workers who are working with and receiving refugees on a regular basis, CESI recalls that the public services in Europe's regions, towns and municipalities need (more) help to be able to take in refugees with dignity - including from the EU.

New Commission proposals to manage the refugee crisis: Public sector and local administration workers need EU support

Many employees of the public sector and local and regional administrations are on a daily or at least occasional basis working with incoming migrants, and it becomes increasingly obvious that large numbers of them have become overwhelmed. Not least as a result of cuts in public finance, many public sector bodies and local and regional administrations lack staff and equipment to cope with the dramatic situation. They are also overburdened with complex asylum provisions and procedures.

CESI Secretary General Klaus Heeger: “Administration staff is overwhelmed.”

CESI Secretary General Klaus Heeger underlined the urgency of the subject matter: “Regional and local administrations in several European countries are facing tremendous challenges when it comes to ensuring a timely processing of the refugee asylum procedures and their further needs. Despite a permanent, common and ‘automatic’ European refugee distribution mechanism, as proposed by Mr Juncker today, the uninterrupted arrival of new refugees means that the challenges which public sector workers and local administrations and their staff members are confronted with is becoming greater by the day.”

EU support for public sector staff vital

In this context, CESI welcomes that additional support has already been pledged under the EU Asylum and Migration Fund (AMIF) for countries such as Austria and Hungary in order to raise their administrative capacity. Furthermore, the proposed simplification of public procurement procedures in connection with the current asylum crisis is a step in the right direction.

However, Klaus Heeger also warned of too much audacity: “We cannot be naïve: A decent and humane migration policy does not only relate to an efficient processing of asylum requests and a fair distribution of migrants in adequate shelters, but also the provision of long term perspectives. These can only be provided if migrants receive a real chance to be integrated in our societies.”

Beyond migration, Mr Juncker also made comments on the future of EU social and employment affairs, announcing proposals to establish a common social socket for the EU in 2016. CESI is curious about this, noting that interesting proposals have been made in the past to centre a common social socket around an EU unemployment benefit scheme or minimum wages. CESI hopes that plans will eventually substantiate.

To access more information about Mr Juncker’s speech and the proposals made, visit the Commission’s webpage

To provide further discussion impetus on the migrant crisis, CESI will hold a CESI@noon lunchtime expert debate on ‘Public administrations in Europe facing the new challenges of migration’ on October 19. Please consult CESI’s events website section for further information and registration.