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Mutual Learning Program in Sofia (Bulgaria)

From 13 to 16 June 2022, CEPAG, CITUB and SDA hosted a Mutual Learning Program (MLP) in the framework for the UnionMigrantNet & Cities Together for Integration project. In this MLP, partners from Bulgaria welcomed partners from Belgium and Greece and shared experiences, practices, measures, and instruments that are used in both countries. Representatives from CEPAG, Le Monde des Possibles, FGTB Liège-Huy-Waremme, ETUC and EKA took part in this MLP.

The activities included a visit to a refugee camp to better understand their integration process, and the presentation of a study made by the Institute for Social and Trade Union Research about the access to the labour market in Bulgaria. It was possible to share the experience that Bulgarian members have in providing integration services to refugees and migrants, but also to present the challenges, issues and good practices.

The MLP in Sofia made possible to compare the conditions on integration of three different countries as far as the immigration phenomenon is concerned Belgium as a classic country of reception of immigrants, Greece where gradually from a transit country it becomes a country of settlement of immigrants and Bulgaria as a relatively new country in the field. Bulgaria also presents a specific difference in the distribution of the migratory flows compared to Belgium and Greece.

In addition, Bulgaria has one of the largest emigrant populations in Europe.  In the last three decades, the emigration of Bulgarian citizens is greater in numbers than the inflows of immigrants from other countries to Bulgaria despite the recent tendency to return of Bulgarian emigrants to the country.

Bulgaria has been experiencing migratory flows for a shorter period of time than Belgium and Greece, but seems to have developed effective reception arrangements more quickly. The coordination between the city, associations and trade unions makes it possible to offer more clear and accessible services.

This Mutual Learning Programme is one of the 6 MLPs organised in the framework of the “UnionMigrantNet & Cities Together for Integration” project. The other MLPs are organised in Italy, Greece, Belgium, Bulgaria and Poland.
The purpose of these MLPs is to improve UnionMigrantNet members and local authorities’ services provided to migrants and refugees by the exchange of experiences and good practices, but also to develop instruments aimed at smoothing their integration in the labour market.