My Department is organising the conference to allow an exchange of views and experiences on various aspects of the process of social inclusion of immigrants. We want to know how exchanges between member states could be encouraged and facilitated on an ongoing basis. The EU Commission's directorate general for employment and social affairs supports the conference.
The conference will examine how migrants can best be supported by employment and social policies in achieving social inclusion in the countries to which they move. Migrants, for the purposes of the conference, will include those moving between current EU member states, those moving within the enlarged Union and from outside the EU.
The conference will be attended by members of the EU employment and social protection committees, members of the administrative commission on social security for migrant workers, heads of public employment services, social partners, relevant NGOs and academics from existing member states, accession countries and EFTA states. This House will be represented by members of the Oireachtas Committee on Social and Family Affairs.
The conference will be structured around two broad pillars: European labour mobility and skills, and the social inclusion of migrant workers. The first pillar will centre around the role of geographical mobility and migration to help solve skills bottlenecks on the European labour market and to support individual rights to freedom of movement. On the social inclusion side, migrant workers are often confronted with many obstacles in achieving social inclusion and the conference will focus on social protection and other social services to support migrant workers in overcoming these obstacles. During the conference, contributions will be made on the main challenges facing migrant workers in the social and employment fields and how employment and social policies and programmes need to be and are being adapted to meet the special needs of this group. At present there is a focus on immigration into Ireland but there is still a high proportion of Irish people living abroad.
The task force on emigration welcomed the initiative being taken by the Irish Presidency and the possibilities it would provide to encourage and facilitate greater co-operation between host countries, countries of origin and NGOs in promoting the welfare of emigrants. I have arranged for representatives of Irish emigrant organisations in the UK and the USA to attend the conference as observers. They can learn about the measures being taken and planned to assist emigrants.