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Civil society involvement in the welcoming and integration of immigrants - The case of Portugal

From EPSA - European Public Sector Award

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Award winner

The High Commission for Immigration and Intercultural Dialogue (ACIDI), following the competences of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, is a public institute with the mission of taking part in the creation, implementation and evaluation of crosscutting public policies concerned with the integration of immigrants and ethnic minorities, as well as promoting dialogue between different cultures, ethnic groups and religions. In order to empower immigrants and their organisations as a way to better defend and promote their rights, Portugal has created a juridical framework for immigrants’ associations providing the conditions for an interactive partnership between the public sector and civil society towards immigrants’ integration. As a result, ACIDI has not only provided financial support to those organisations, but also, and no less importantly, has involved them in the creation, implementation and evaluation of public policies in this area.

Civil society and migrants’ associations are, thus, the government’s partners, working together at several levels, particularly in the creation of the Consultative Council for Immigration Affairs (COCAI). COCAI seeks to ensure the participation and collaboration of immigrant communities, social partners and social solidarity institutions in the drafting of social integration policies and policies to combat exclusion. Among other competences, it plays an important role by providing a previous statement regarding the recognition of immigrant associations, as well as on requests for financial support made by those associations within the ACIDI.

COCAI plays also a very important role in the monitoring of national plans for the integration of immigrants, since each year a progress report is produced and presented to the Council. These plans reflect the government’s commitment to welcoming and integrating immigrants better. The II Plan for Immigrant Integration (2010-2013) asked civil society to give feedback on the plan’s text and make suggestions towards more adequate and efficient measures, aiming at increased transparency in the government’s commitment. In order to offer better help to immigrants in the welcoming and integration process, ACIDI created other specific responses in which civil society and immigrant associations are active partners: the National Centres for Immigrant Support (CNAI) and the ‘Choices’ Programme.

Within the CNAIs, also known as one-stop-shops, sociocultural mediators, migrants or people with a migrant background gain the clients’ trust and affection, not only due to the services they provide, but also, because they have experienced the same, or similar, difficulties when coming to Portugal. ‘Choices’, on the other hand, is a national programme aiming to promote the social inclusion of children and youngsters, especially those who live in the most vulnerable areas, looking towards equality of opportunities and social cohesion. It is a bottom-up approach that fundraises, supports and evaluates local projects, implemented by consortiums. Other projects/ programmes reflect the same cooperation-based partnership, such as the network of the Local Centres for Immigrant Integration (CLAII), and the Observatory of Immigration.

Award info
Award category: opening up the public sector
Award type: award
Award year: 2011
Project type
Sector: Public administration, modernisation, institutional affairs, reform
Type of activity:
Keywords: Migrants’ integration, collaborative partnership, commitment, civil society empowerment
Short English description: Civil society and migrants’ associations are, thus, the government’s partners, working together at several levels, particularly in the creation of the Consultative Council for Immigration Affairs (COCAI).
Further information
Organisation: The High Commission for Immigration and Intercultural Dialogue
Other applicants:
Homepage: http://www.acidi.gov.pt; http://www.programaescolhas.pt
Level of government: national level
Size of organisation: 1-25
Number of people involved: >15
Country: Portugal
EU membership: EU member
Language code: en
Start date:
End date:


Civil society involvement in the welcoming and integration of immigrants - The case of Portugal (38.7248773, -9.1344305)
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