Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR)
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Governance and citizenship

Migration - 23.10.2018

A conversation with MEP Miriam Dalli on EU funding for cities and regions
Migration is one of EU’s top priority. This is why one of the key funds in this area is currently under discussion: the European asylum and migration fund (AMF). As key players in the integration of migrants, towns and regions should have a facilitated access to EU funding in this area.
To know more on this issue, the Council of European Municipalities and Regions spoke with MEP Miriam Dalli, rapporteur of the EU asylum and migration fund (AMF) in the European Parliament.
We are currently discussing the future of EU funding in the area of migration and integration. In your opinion, what is at stake?
I believe that funding is an important tool to support member states in managing migratory flows. Such funding should prioritise actions that enhance solidarity and responsibility sharing amongst the EU countries. Additionally, adequate funding should support the policy objectives of legal migration and integration.
The proposed Asylum and Migration Fund (AMF) will cover the period from 2021 until 2027. As rapporteur, it is my intention to ensure that we have the European Parliament’s mandate, should the Council be ready to enter into interinstitutional negotiations (with the Parliament and the Commission) before the European elections in May 2019. 
I want to ensure that the allocation of funds strengthens solidarity among member states, allowing for dignified returns and providing a pragmatic approach towards the granting of international protection. 
What are your main proposals for the EU asylum and migration fund? 
The Asylum and Migration Fund (AMF) is the dedicated fund that should focus on managing migration internally. 
My aim is to ensure that funding is directed towards the main priorities: to strengthen and develop all aspects of EU laws on asylum (the Common European Asylum System), to support legal migration, to contribute to the integration of third country nationals, to countering irregular migration and contributing to dignified returns as well as ensuring solidarity and responsibility sharing.
Local and regional governments as well as organisations are important stakeholders in the implementation of a migration policy. For this reason, I want to ensure that their contribution is not undermined.
How could the AMF directly help towns and regions, especially smaller ones, in the area of migration and asylum? 
There cannot be proper integration of migrants and refugees if local and regional governments are not active partners in this. Whilst I believe that local and regional governments should be consulted in both the design and implementation of programmes.
I also believe that their actions should be supported. In this regard, I believe that the thematic facility has an important role to play whereby a minimum percentage could be allocated to ensure that our localities and our regions are well equipped to ensure inclusivity and dignity for all.
One of the cohesion funds, the European social fund plus (ESF+), also aims at integrating migrants. How can a city know which fund it should apply for? 
The general idea of the Commission proposal is to differentiate between short-term and long-term integration measures. Both funds are meant to be complementary and the aim is to ensure that no integration measure is excluded from funding purposes. 
It will be up to the cities and regions to decide and choose which appropriate call to answer to - be it a call from a Member State or the European Commission - it is thus important for member states to consult with local and regional governments during the implementation of the programmes and development phases. 
In your opinion, what could be done by the EU institutions to improve integration at the local level? 
Funds should be diverted towards ensuring the necessary support towards integration measures such as programmes focusing on education, language training, civic orientation courses and actions promoting equality amongst others. This is essential to ensure that people do not feel excluded from society.
I also believe that special attention should be given to the specific needs of torture survivors and victims of human trafficking. 
At a political level, politicians need to do more to fight populism by reaching out to citizens and explaining how migration is not just a challenge but there can be opportunities that would benefit our societies. In ageing societies, more human resources are required and legal channels of migration can address this. Efforts for the proper integration of third country nationals must be stepped up in all terms, including employment, education and social inclusion.
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