SOLIDAR at the 8th European Migration Forum

The last edition of the European Migration Forum (EMF) took place on 4-5 December 2023 in Brussels. This year the Forum focused on how to identify and support migrants and refugees with specific needs; examine public attitudes and communication on migration and inclusion; sustainable labour market integration.

More than 100 representatives from EU civil society organisations (including professional organisations, academic institutions or think tanks, many of them migrant-led), Trade Unions, and local and regional authorities gathered to have a dialogue with representatives of European institutions. The  Forum serves as a space of dialogue and networking, between stakeholders working at the national and local levels where migration and integration happen, to provide support and advance the rights of migrants, and with the European level where policies and funding about migrant people are decided, and good practices shared.

Julie Martinaud, Social inclusion officer in SOLIDAR and outgoing EMF Bureau member, gave some introductory remarks. She voiced that the Bureau, as most organisations present in the room, stands in solidarity with all people on the move, no matter where they come from, no matter why they migrate. People migrate, for work, studies, for protection, for family; mobility is a normal part of life and it must come with rights. Finishing with a call for the upcoming European elections, she stressed that all who can vote, need to vote against anti-migrant, xenophobic and racist candidates with agendas of dehumanization of migrants and making Europe into a fortress. And all, voting or not, have a role in mobilizing to shape the outcome of these elections.


SOLIDAR participated in two roundtables. Discussion in roundtable on changing the narrative on migration in the age of polarisation and disinformation highlighted the need to cover migration in relation to ‘soft topics’ such as education, culture and science and not only ‘hard topics’; to have journalists with a migration background covering migration topics; that campaigns should seek to offer alternative narratives rather than appease fears.

Roundtable on sustainable labour market integration stressed the challenges of the language barrier, the arduous process of validation and recognition of skills, information gaps, or underlined the need to involve Trade Unions on migration topics and to have Unions more inclusive of migrant workers. One good practice highlighted by SOLIDAR was to run mobile Trade Union counselling units that reach out to migrants working in remote or isolated locations, so those workers can have easier access to a Trade Union at their workplace. SOLIDAR also stressed that beyond just access to employment, there is the need to look at the quality of the labour market integration. A large number of third country nationals working in the EU do so on a work permit, that is usually combined with their residence permit, meaning they are tied with a specific job and employer and that if they lose the job, they lose the permit very quickly. Here a good practice would be to enable migrant workers to change jobs on the permit they have, as well as enjoy a reasonable period of unemployment without risking losing their permit, as CSOs have been pushing policy-makers to achieve with the recast Single-Permit directive. This would allow to combat labour exploitation of third-country nationals as well as improve their professional mobility and opportunities.


Elections to renew part of the EMF Bureau took place. Anna Coulibaly, Project Officer on community sponsorship at ICMC Europe and the SHARE Network was elected Bureau member represented EU-level civil society, while Yonous Muhammadi, President of the Greek Forum for Refugees, will represent national-level civil society.

Further information about the Forum and its last edition can be found on the European Economic and Social Committee’s website as well as a flash report, while a full report will follow at a later stage.