Over the past decade, thousands of migrants and asylum seekers have come to Europe fleeing instability in their own countries in search of a better life. However, integrating the new arrivals has presented a challenge to which several EU countries have struggled to respond.
Although migration policy is primarily a national competence, local and regional authorities play a paramount role in facilitating migrant integration on the ground, particularly by providing housing, trainings and opportunities for dialogue with the host community. Unfortunately, local government often lacks support in this area and this is all the more true for medium-sized cities.
The Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR) and national associations of local and regional governments have long been drawing attention to these local-level integration needs. To bridge this gap, we have together with eight cities and eight national associations set up IncluCities, a three-year project led by CEMR and funded by the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) of the European Union.
IncluCities supports less experienced cities in carrying out concrete changes in local integration practices. The project is based on four mentoring schemes, which will cover various areas, including education and training, access to basic services, active participation and social inclusion, and housing.
Cities (accompanied by associations of local and regional government) are paired in groups of two, in which one city acts as a mentor and the other city as a mentee.
Associations of local and regional governments play a pivotal role in this process by disseminating good practices from cities to the rest of their network. Furthermore, they represent local and regional governments vis-à-vis central governments.
The overall aim is to scale up good practices while connecting them with the decision-making cycle at the EU level. Concrete action plans can help to develop innovative policy solutions on integration that will better reflect the needs of local governments on the ground.
The projet also endeavours to:
- Improve long-term integration of third-country nationals in intermediary cities
- Improve transnational cooperation between cities and associations of local and regional governments
- Increase capacities of cities and associations of local and regional governments
The project has established a network of eight cities with varying degrees of migration-related experience and their corresponding associations.
- The city of Livadia and the Central Union of Municipalities of Greece (KEDE)
- Saint-Jean-de-la-Ruelle and the French Association of CEMR (AFCCRE)
- Capaci and the Italian Association of CEMR (AICCRE)
- Fuenlabrada and the Spanish Federation of Municipalities and Provinces (FEMP)
- The City of Brussels and Schaerbeek, together with the Association of the City and Municipalities of the Brussels-Capital Region (BRULOCALIS)
- Mechelen and the Association of Flemish Cities and Municipalities (VVSG)
- The city of Jelgava with Latvian Association of Local and Regional Governments (LPS)
Twitter: @IncluCitiesEU | #IncluCities
Project Coordination: MariaGrazia.Montella@ccre-cemr.org