Migrants waiting at the train station in Bolzano. PHOTO/ARCHIVE/ANSA/STEFAN WALLISCH
Migrants waiting at the train station in Bolzano. PHOTO/ARCHIVE/ANSA/STEFAN WALLISCH

The autonomous province of Bolzano has decided to tie the provision of migrant supplementary social services to migrants' desire to integrate, requiring them to take courses in Italian and civics in order to receive the services.

The autonomous province of Bolzano in the northeast of Italy provides a range of social services to migrants, including a family allowance, a housing subsidy, and assistance to those who are not self-sufficient. Now, in order to access these services, migrants will have to show their willingness to integrate. 

The provincial government has decided to tie the provision of non-essential migrant welfare services to three requirements: learning at least one of the two languages spoken in South Tyrol, attending civics training courses, and respecting mandatory schooling. 

Measures 'for well-being of society' 

Bolzano provincial governor Arno Kompatscher said the measure is for the "well-being of society" and that the migrants involved will be the ultimate beneficiaries. Starting in 2019, social services will be provided to non-EU citizens according to the "principle of integration based on effort", in particular regarding language. 

In a joint press conference, Kompatscher and assessor Philipp Achammer said both parents will have to take courses and that "enrolment is not enough; they will also have to attend". The civics training courses, already provided on a national level, will also include aspects of the local culture. In addition, the autonomous province wants to combat unjustified and prolonged absences from school. 

Decision followed legal opinions 

The provincial government decided that services will be provided "with respect to the principles of proportionality and reasonableness". In the coming months, the relevant divisions will have to modify their criteria for providing services. The decision was preceded by a series of legal opinions, the most recent of which was that of Professor Walter Obwexer of Innsbruck University. He said provisions in the 2011 provincial law on integration, which provide the power to link the emission of supplementary social services to third-country citizens with knowledge of the two provincial languages of Italian and German, are compatible under EU and international law". 

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