The next six years, the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+) and national co-financing will invest over €6.1 million to enhance the capacity of local governments to provide integration and adaptation services.
"All Estonian local governments are responsible for integrating new immigrants and welcoming returning citizens; however, they have to increase their knowledge base as well as their financial resources in order to do so successfully. I am pleased that the Association of Estonian Cities and Municipalities (AECM), as a local government umbrella organization, has agreed to serve as a coordinating partner in this domain," Culture Minister Piret Hartman said.
One of the major bottlenecks in the field is municipalities' lack of awareness of the challenges and opportunities associated with integration.
People from different linguistic and cultural backgrounds, as well as returnees, often need help in accessing services, but local authorities' understanding of the target group and willingness to provide services varies across Estonia.
Over the period 2023-2029, a total of €6,139,037 will be channeled from the ESF+ and national co-financing to improve and streamline service delivery capacity.
The action is promoted by the Association of Estonian Cities and Municipalities (AECM), a local government umbrella organization.
"Concerns about integration are timely and critical. I am pleased that, as an umbrella organization for local governments, we can assist our members in coordinating activities and providing services across the country. In the context of the Ukrainian conflict, all Estonian municipalities are now facing integration and adaptation challenges, and cities and municipalities are the primary point of contact," Mihhail Kõlvart, chair of the board of the AECM, said.
"Even if we cannot alleviate all local governments' concerns in this regard, this measure can help in the planning of numerous activities," he added.
Over the next six years, the union will help local governments in developing action plans and content activities for integration and adaptation programs.
The union will also appoint an integration and adaptation counselor in 2023.
The decree of the Minister of Culture with the detailed conditions for the use of the grant can be found in the public register of documents of the Ministry of Culture.
Editor: Kristina Kersa