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Territorial Employment Pact

Gruppo Ágora

1 The practice

2 Hints for an evaluation

2.1 Strenghts

The "TEP" prides upon its bilingual character in the Region of Brussels. Bilingualism is certainly a positive aspect concerning the intercultural integration of foreigners.
An important issue of the Pact is the dialogical (joint construction) approach between partners (vs. a more traditional one based on negotiation). This might be a characteristic imposed by EU funding that is certainly positive in terms of diminishing discrimination and increasing equal opportunities for all citizens.
Such an ambitious action as the "TEP", involves too many parties and partners, which is positive, since it can thus satisfy many interests and benefit from many different perspectives of the same situation.

It considers racial, ethnic, and cultural issues a factor of labour discrimination and plans specific actions in order to balance the job opportunities of this sector of the population. A joint agreement to eradicate discrimination based on ethnic origin, religion, culture and language is a positive movement towards the creation of equal opportunities, but it should allow for the participation of the target community (groups from different ethnic origin in the region) in the design and development of the project.
The "TEP" largely depends on public funding, which may condition its durability and orientation to possible future political changes. On the other hand, public funding can also be considered a guarantee of durability, since it can provide sound financial support. Public involvement in issues concerning ethnic, cultural or linguistic discrimination is always positive. It is both an indicator and guide of a popular view on the issue and its desire to improve the situation. Projects as wide as these really help to change discriminatory situations to a large extent, and should thus proliferate.

2.2 Critical Points

The bilingual aspect of the project is more aimed at the specific historical and political conditions of Brussels than to the will to integrate foreign workers to the job market. Considering the large funding they receive from the EC, the "TEP" could provide information and services in several languages. This would certainly help the integration of socially discriminated sectors such as immigrants.

The implication of immigrants in this “joint negotiation” is not as wide as would be desirable. Immigrants are one of the targets of the plan, and their consideration is restricted to the building of a non-discriminatory project.

When too many differences separate the agents involved in a joint project, there is a large risk of disagreement and therefore the need of larger discussion and disposition to make certain concessions. If such time is not granted or the different organisations and institutions involved are unable to get to an agreement, the project is doomed to failure or, at least, to malfunction or distortion. The organisation of Brussels’s "TEP" is very positive about the agreements and results obtained, and focuses more on the positive aspects than on the negative ones. In fact, the continuation of the project and the ongoing EC funding received could be considered a demonstration that the project is positive and productive according to its objectives.

The "TEP" is not a specifically intercultural project, and thus its intercultural component is only a consequence of the high percentage of population of foreign origin living in Brussels. It is primarily aimed at the development of the region and not at the integration of immigrant workers.
Public funding is often linked to long bureaucratic processes that slow down the start of projects. Publicly funded projects often adapt to the conditions imposed or proposed by public initiative, which implies a series of formal aspects that limit their actions to a large extent. It is also subject to political interests and subsequent manipulation.

2.3 Lessons Learnt

  • Although the project is not specifically intercultural, interculture counts among its main objectives. The "TEP" is very active concerning sensibilisation of the general public (seminars, studies, guides, televised spots and brochures). In this sense, televised spots might be the most compelling one, since television reaches a wider audience with a more attractive format.
  • The nature of the project itself is an exportable aspect. Intercultural issues concern the whole of society and should be approached from a perspective as wide as possible. The cooperation of several social partners and the creation of a Pact on non-discrimination in labour on which all of them agree strengthens both this objective and its results.
  • Public funding. Although independent organisations enjoy a wider freedom of action, they usually suffer from some lacks of financial support. This explains why they make efforts to make their financial reports public, since this practice increases the confidence of possible donors. Public funding guarantees financial control of the projects it supports and it grants financial stability and continuation to projects. It also shows the compromise of the whole of society with the sector of population that suffers from ethnic discrimination and guarantees everybody’s contribution to this cause.
  • It is a documented practice that might help develop similar projects in other regions.