The integration of migrants and refugees at local level has been a priority for the Council of Europe since 1992, marked by the ratification of the Convention on the Participation of Foreigners in Public Life at Local Level. Since then, the Congress has developed a specific approach, promoting cooperation between all levels of governance and targeting different aspects of integration such as respect for human dignity, solidarity with refugees and the goal of building inclusive societies.
Congress President Jean-Claude Frécon addressed the issue of multi-level cooperation on the occasion of the International Migrants Day on 18 December 2015, drawing particular attention to the critical role that local authorities play in this respect. A report entitled “From reception to integration: the role of local authorities facing migration” is currently in preparation and will be adopted in March 2017. The aim is to underline that today’s migrants and refugees are tomorrow’s citizens and that specific action is needed to ensure their integration.
The Council of Europe has adopted an Action Plan on building inclusive societies. It also published a book on competences for democratic culture, the focus of which coincides with the 2016 ELDW theme "Living together as equals in culturally diverse democratic societies". The Congress contributed to this line of action by developing a toolkit for intercultural and interreligious dialogue which will be online in October 2016. This toolkit can also be used as a guide for organising events in the framework of the ELDW 2016.