ACCEPT Pluralism Workshop in Milan, Italy


The management of cultural diversity in urban life


Expert Final Workshop of ACCEPT PLURALISM project


 25th October 2012 – 9:15-13:00 – Sala lauree

 Facoltà di Scienze Politiche, Economiche e Sociali – via Conservatorio 7, Milano




The dissemination event in Milan was organised by the Universita degli Studi di Milano, Dipartimento di Scienze Sociali e Politiche, as a workshop in the field of “policies of exclusion” and brought the findings from the EU-project ACCEPT Pluralism. It was designed as an opportunity for presenting the major findings of the project to Milan’s stakeholders and policy makers, members of trade unions and civil society actors, academics and students. , Dipartimento di Scienze Sociali e Politiche, as a workshop in the field of “policies of exclusion” and brought the findings from the EU-project . It was designed as an opportunity for presenting the major findings of the project to Milan’s stakeholders and policy makers, members of trade unions and civil society actors, academics and students.




Maurizio Ambrosini (Professor at the University of Milan, ACCEPT member) opened the event by presenting the results of two research studies, the ACCEPT Pluralism research and the Research on Urban policies in Europe (Ambrosini, 2012). The main aspects he underlined were: the discrepancies between national and local policies, the main reasons for immigrant exclusion which emerged from the ACCEPT research (security issues, welfare provision and the defence of cultural identity), the role of civil society actors (NGOs, trade unions, religious organizations…) in dealing with several issues regarding migration (not only policies of exclusion but also more politically difficult issues, such as asylum seekers, irregular immigrants, dialogue with religious minorities). His talk entitled Urban multiculturalism: challenges and policies', is available here

IMG4109Doris Peschke (CCME - Churches' Commission for Migrants in Europe, ACCEPT member) described the advocacy role of CCME at the European level and outlined its aims, i.e. safeguarding the rights of immigrants (such as family reunification, long-term residence permit), sharing EU responsibilities, combatting discrimination. She highlighted the EU perception of immigration and underlined the fact that the EU Migration Policy is a “young policy field”: the European Union is moving slowly towards common rules for immigration. The role of European NGOs is important because they form a network which can provide services, defend human rights, represent the interests of immigrants, in other words they favor integration. Doris Peschke presentation is available here 

The following talks were given by people who play an active part in Italian civil society organizations, trade unions, and charities, which usually work on immigration issues and fight against policies of exclusion. A talk was also given by the Councillor for Social Policies and Health Issues at the Milan Municipality.

Don Virginio Colmegna (Casa della Carità) underlined the need to overcome the concept of immigration as poverty or an emergency. In his opinion it is necessary to transform migrants’ requests for support   into requests for citizenship. To do this we have to begin from the bottom, i.e. the local contexts and the cities. The “good practices” which are usually used in these contexts have to be shared and pointed out at the political level, in order to modify the policies of immigration. In fact the current policies of immigration do not favor integration and do not involve migrants in actively participating in   social and political life. Besides the involvement of migrants, in Don Colmegna’s opinion we have to prevent Italian society from displaying xenophobic behaviors and attitudes. 


Livio Neri is a lawyer and member of the Associazione Avvocati per Niente, an association which was founded in 2004 and aimed at guaranteeing justice for the weak. It was promoted by Caritas and supported by some third sector organizations (i.e. the Christian Associations of the Italian Workers, Trade Unions). It now collaborates with these associations and defends the people’s rights free of charge. The aim is not only to defend the weak legally, but also to make governments focus on social problems and elaborate better policies. Neri described the activities of the association and some of the cases in which it intervened against the policies of exclusion. He identified three types of policies of exclusion: those which regard social assistance (e.g. the bonus for babies), those on registration at the Registry Office, and finally those policies which he called “creative policies” (e.g. to limit the opening hours of kebab shops). Neri underlined the fact that the aim of these policies is not to regulate a phenomenon but to communicate something, i.e. distinguish between “us”, the citizens, and “them”, the immigrants who have no/very few rights.

Pier Francesco Majorino (Councillor for Social Policies and Health Issues – Milan Municipality) highlighted the work done by the Milan Municipality in order to stop and avoid discriminatory measures (e.g. the ban on illegal migrants’ use of public homeless shelters). Generally the Councillor thinks that it is necessary to change attitudes: the local level has to favor relations with immigrants, involve them in local social life, put them in contact with local institutions and NGOs. The management of immigration has to occur first at local level, in the municipalities, where immigrants have to be assisted in their integration (e.g. favoring the naturalization of second generations at 18 years old). 


Riccardo Piacentini (CGIL) works at local level in one of the most important Italian trade unions, CGIL. His criticism was about the role of CGIL, which has become a substitute for local public administration. The trade union in fact offers some services to immigrants which should be carried out by local administrations, such as the renewal of the resident permit. Even though trade unions carry out important services for migrants, they cannot intervene at legislative level, they are not heard by the governments and they cannot propose changes in   legislation.


Lorenzo Todeschini (ANOLF-CISL) is part of the ANOLF, an association which is promoted by CISL, the most important trade union after CGIL. ANOLF (National Association Beyond the Borders) is a no profit association whose aim is to promote equality and at the same time to defend the cultural, religious and ethnic differences of citizens. In his talk, Todeschini underlined the necessity to make immigrants protagonists within the trade unions. Trade unions have to change their approach and begin to work “with immigrants”, not “for immigrants”. Despite the fact that there are few economic resources, in his opinion we have to demand respect for   rights, “work on values”, i.e. to spread values of respect, and create a network between public and private associations.

Daniele Nahum (Jewish Community in Milan) described the history of the Jewish community in Milan. He underlined the heterogeneity of the community, which is made up of Jewish people from different countries. He quoted on the one hand the capability of the community to develop   internal welfare, aimed at supporting its members, and on the other hand the lack of integration policies on the part of institutions.




Organizing committee:


The program of the event is available both in Italian  and in English .