Vienna Future Talks

Innlegg holdt på ministermøte om integrering i Wien.

Minister Kurz, Colleagues, Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen, 

Thank you Minister for your initiative to discuss Visions for Integration at a time when we are faced with many challenges due to the migration crises. I am pleased to present to you the Norwegian integration policy and experiences. 

Our policy is designed to prepare immigrants to enter the labour market. The key to successful social and economic integration is employment, education, the ability to master the Norwegian language - and to participate in our society. 

In many ways, this policy has been a success:

Our findings show that more than 60 percent of the refugees, both men and women, who are granted residence, are in work or education one year after they finished the Introduction program. 

Furthermore, the rate of participation in higher education and in the labour market for young people with two immigrant parents is closer to the rest of the population than for other immigrants. For some groups it is even higher than for the majority, especially when it comes to attending higher education. 

While immigration adds to our diversity in a positive way, there are also challenges. Some children grow up in families where parents lack some of the basic skills that are needed to become an economically independent participant in the Norwegian society. 

To adjust for these differences, we have developed a strategy against child poverty. As part of the strategy, the Government offers free core time in kindergarten to all 4 and 5 years old children living in families with low income. We have also included activities for parents - such as Norwegian language training - as part of the kindergarten program. 

Since 2007, work has been the most common reason for immigration to Norway, followed by family immigration. Like other European countries, we are facing a large influx of asylum seekers. 

Many of the asylum seekers are unaccompanied minors.

This year we are expecting around 35 000 asylum seekers coming to Norway. Quite a large number of them are coming the arctic route through the Russian border. 

In addition to the large influx of asylum seekers, we will resettle 8000 Syrian refugees in the three years to come. We also have a large number of persons granted residence - still waiting in reception centres to settle in a local community. 

Due to this new situation, we are considering how to improve our ability to integrated refugees with residence permit into our society. We have to take into consideration that large groups will have temporary permits. 

On this part, we have already taken several steps: 

The Government is working on measures to speed up the settlement of refugees with a residence permit in the municipalities so they can start a regular life there. This is especially crucial for the unaccompanied minors. 

The Government have taken action to make sure that there are qualified interpreters to meet the needs of society. This is an urgent task in the situation of today. 

Furthermore, we are considering several efforts to strengthen basic qualifications through better Norwegian tuition and to make the Introduction program more flexible and effective.  

The local government, who must interact with non-governmental organisations and entrepreneurs, runs the Introduction program. We will improve systems that will make it easier for qualified immigrants to enter the labour market. 

We are in a process of reviewing our immigration and integration polies: 

We will consider increasing the required length of residence for obtaining Norwegian citizenship. The Government has proposed that persons granted citizenship have to pass a test in Norwegian and civics.

 In addition, the Government will propose a White paper on integration policy. The White paper will review today's integration policy and suggest policies that will ensure that people with a residence permit are able to utilise their skills and participate in working life. 

We have also decided to appoint a commission of experts to consider possible long-term consequences for the Norwegian welfare society in light of continued high influx of refugees and immigrants. 

In times like these, it is crucial that we strive to prevent extremism and conflicts among groups in our society. To prevent this we launched an action plan in June 2014. As part of our effort to combat violent extremism, we are also looking into amendments concerning the Nationality Act.

We also work actively against hate speech. 

I like to sum up by underlining that the Norwegian society – as well as several other European countries – is facing major challenges. 

We are now reviewing the Norwegian Immigration Act aiming at a stricter asylum regulation. At the same time, we must strive to make integration successful by making adjustments that fits the needs of our time. We must use the skills and resources of all new immigrants by ensuring that our policies are contributing to socially and economically integration. 

Thank you!