The City of Erlangen is becoming more and more multicultural and, today, about the 34% of its inhabitants have a migration background. In order to encourage social cohesion, the city has redacted an Integration Charter that illustrates the integration strategy plan. More importantly, this charter witnesses the change of perception of migrants. In fact, they are no longer labelled as “Gastarbeiter” (guest worker) but as citizens with an immigrant background whose integration process will require time and efforts on both sides.
The Charter outlines the key elements required to achieve a high level of integration. Integration and coexistence should be considered a global objective, concerning every area of local administration: The City Council should hire more employees with a migration background in the public administration and in the municipal businesses. In fact, employees with foreign origin firstly speak several languages and secondly have intercultural competences.
People with a minority background will equally benefit from all city programs and services – this means that services already in place may be modified to suit specific requirements. The city of Erlangen actively discourages and stands against any form of discrimination and racism, on the contrary, it guarantees every citizen the right to preserve their religious and cultural identity.
Moreover, the Integration Charter points out that citizens with immigrant backgrounds are indispensable and their customs and traditions must be recognized as an enrichment to the host society. For this reason, the municipality of Erlangen aims to strengthen the feeling of self-confidence and openness to ensure peace and mutual understanding.
Therefore, integration will be fully and successfully achieved when all the citizens will feel accepted and heard within their society, when they will identify with the community leader and with the public administration and, ultimately, when they will feel at home.