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National Seminar: Assessment of integration measures for vulnerable migrant groups in Bulgaria
 
On September 25, 2014 the Center for the Study of Democracy hosted a national expert meeting aimed at generating a discussion on the mechanisms for monitoring of the migrant integration in Bulgaria. At the meeting the results of a study on the integration measures for vulnerable migrant groups in the country were presented alongside the experience of other EU member states. A methodology for monitoring of the migrant integration was outlined. The participants at the expert meeting were as follows: Stefka Blazheva, National Contact Point for the European Migration Network at the Ministry of Interior (MoI); Radoslav Miloushev, a representative of the Coordination, Information and Analysis Directorate at the Ministry of Interior; Sonia Ruseva, a senior expert at the Center for Educational Integration of Children and Students from Ethnic Minorities at the Ministry of Education and Science (MES); Galia Tsokova, from the Center for Information Assurance on Education at MES; Hristo Simeonov, a representative of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy (MLSP); Sasha Gancheva and Yordan Yordanov, leading experts in the Information and Analysis Department at the Employment Agency within MLSP; Ognyan Hristov, head of the Analysis, Administrative and Information Services Department at the Social Assistance Agency; Magdalena Kostova, head of the Demographic and Social Statistics Department at the National Statistical Institute (NSI); Todor Davidkov, head of Business Statistics Department at NSI; Ivanka Puleva, representative of the Refugee and Migrant Services within the Bulgarian Red Cross; Dr. Mila Mancheva, Svetla Encheva and Iva Alexandrova, from the Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD); and Rossitza Gentcheva, a representative of the New Bulgarian University (NBU).

The opening of the seminar was followed by a presentation by Dr. Mila Mancheva who introduced the recent developments in the monitoring system for integration policy towards immigrants in Bulgaria. According to the findings Bulgaria’s mechanisms for migrant integration monitoring are not yet well developed. This is mainly due to low immigration levels and insufficient synchronization between existing administrative and statistical databases required for monitoring of third countries` citizens. Similar tendencies can be observed in other EU member states such as Greece, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Hungary.

The subsequent discussion clarified some of the main issues related to monitoring of migrants integration, as well as the opportunities to better use the potential of the already existing databases. The comments of Ms. Galia Tsokova, from MES, Ms. Sasha Gancheva, from the Employment Agency, and Ms. Stefka Blazheva, from MoI, contributed significantly to the debate.

During the second part of the seminar, Dr. Mila Mancheva from CSD proposed a sample methodology, which can be utilized for adequate monitoring and evaluation of the immigrant integration in Bulgaria. The ensuing discussion included valuable suggestions for the utilisation of the proposed methodology as well as constructive criticism on its applicability within the Bulgarian context. Ms. Blazheva emphasized the need that statistical indicators be presented through ratio matrices that can be subsequently compared and evaluated as opposed to simply identifying quantitative data. Ms. Galia Tsokova also contributed to the debate, arguing that currently the records on school dropout rates at the MES do not adequately account for the reasons for the absence of students.

In conclusion, Ms. Mila Mancheva stressed on the necessity to initiate a consultation process between the various information-analytical departments of the relevant institutions so as to synchronize the informational categories and indicators on immigrants. Ms. Mancheva pointed out that this is the necessary condition that would enable the creation of a unified national mechanism for the monitoring of the integration of migrants in the country.
 
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