Integration policy covers introduction to society of newly arrived immigrants, compensation to municipalities for refugee reception and promotion of integration. Swedish citizenship and urban development are also part of the integration policy. The goal of the integration policy is to ensure equal rights, obligations and opportunities for all, irrespective of their ethnic and cultural background.
Integration issues are related to many different policy areas; initiatives have been taken within labour market policy, educational policy as well as in anti-discrimination policy. Integration policy is primarily directed towards general measures that reduce exclusion in society. Measures targeting immigrants as a group are to be limited in time after their arrival in Sweden. In the document "Empowerment against exclusion - the Government's strategy for integration", the Government presents the direction, strategy and concrete initiatives for seven priority areas.
Refugee reception organisation
One of the tasks of the Migration Board and the county administrative boards is to ensure that municipalities have a capacity to receive refugees. To this end the county administrative boards negotiate with municipalities on refugee reception, primarily with municipalities with an adequate labour market that offer opportunities to make a living within commuting distance.
The Migration Board, the county administrative boards and the Public Employment Service have formed a special cooperation delegation to enable a more effective cooperation on the reception of refugees. The Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions is included in this work.
Compensation to municipalities for refugee reception
Municipalities that have signed an agreement on refugee reception receive a basic compensation from the state. They also receive a government grant per refugee, (standard allowance) to cover the costs of refugee reception.
Introduction of newly arrived immigrants in society
The municipalities are responsible for assisting newly arrived refugees with their introduction in society. They are offered introduction programmes that include tuition in Swedish for immigrants (sfi), contacts with the labour market, schools and childcare services. The objective is that the newly arrived learn Swedish as soon as possible and be able to support themselves.
The Government has submitted a bill to the Riksdag proposing reforms to speed up the introduction to the labour market of newly arrived immigrants. According to the new law the state will assume a greater responsibility for the introduction. The Public Employment Service is to coordinate measures to help new arrivals to integrate into the labour market. A special benefit will be introduced, equal for everyone regardless of place of residence and conditioned upon active participation in activities. A new actor - an introduction guide - will support the newly arrived to find a way to work. The individual will be able to choose his introduction guide. The new law will take effect on 1st December 2010.
Reforms to increase immigrant participation in the labour market
Several reforms have been implemented to increase immigrant participation in the labour market; for example step-in jobs and new start jobs, the job and development guarantee and the job guarantee for young people. Initiatives have been taken to provide professional development for SFI teachers, to improve professional assessment and validation of foreign qualifications as well as to provide supplementary higher education.
The efforts for urban development aim at identifying effective methods to reduce exclusion in urban areas with a high unemployment rate, insecurity and a high prevalence of poor health. The Government has signed local development agreements for thirty-eight urban areas with twenty-one municipalities.
EU and international cooperation
The Government participates in European and international cooperation to enhance the exchange of knowledge and experience in the areas of integration and urban development. On the EU level, this exchange takes place primarily through the following networks: the National Contact Points on Integration (NCPI), the Urban Development Group (UDG) and the European Urban Knowledge Network (EUKN).
A new legal base for EU cooperation in the area of integration has been introduced in the Lisbon Treaty allowing measures to support and stimulate Member States in their efforts for the integration of legally residing third country nationals. The Stockholm Programme gives the direction for reinforced knowledge exchange on integration and enhanced coordination with other relevant policy areas. Sweden is focusing on the development of core indicators for monitoring of the outcome of Member States integration policies.
The Government also participates in the relevant working groups of the Council of Europe: the European Committee on Migration (CDMG), and of the OECD: the Working Party on Migration (WPM) and the Continuous Reporting System on Migration (SOPEMI).