The European Commission and the European Committee of the Regions have established a new partnership to increase cooperation and support for European cities, regions and rural areas in their efforts to integrate migrants arriving from third countries.
The European Commission and the European Committee of the Regions have established a new partnership to increase cooperation and support to European cities, regions and rural areas in their efforts to integrate migrants arriving from third countries. The partnership builds on the work already initiated in 2019 under the Network of Cities and Regions for the Integration of Migrants, launched by the European Committee of the Regions and actively supported by the Government of Navarra, and is framed within the Action Plan on Integration and Inclusion for 2021-2027, which provides increased funding opportunities, aligned with the Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027.
The Plan has 4 sectoral priorities (education, employment, health and housing) and 5 horizontal priorities, among which are precisely those of building strong partnerships (involving local and regional authorities, as well as social and economic partners, among others) and increasing EU funding for integration initiatives (mainly through the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund, but also the European Social Fund+ and the European Regional Development Fund).
The Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) has a total envelope for the new period of just under EUR 10 billion, of which almost two thirds will go to programmes implemented by Member States through shared management and a minimum of 15% should finance projects promoting the integration and social inclusion of third-country nationals, in order to strengthen and develop legal migration (including training with language or orientation courses and services such as information sessions, advice on their legal status, etc.). ). In any case, it is aimed at measures generally implemented in the initial stages of integration, while interventions with a long-term impact should be funded under the European Social Fund+ (ESF+) or the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
Access to funding is one of the main challenges faced by local and regional authorities in implementing innovative practices for integration and inclusion, which in many cases have proven to be successful. Similarly, they are sometimes faced with a lack of data and knowledge in this field to be able to optimally develop their measures and programmes, so sharing and exchanging good practices is crucial.
For example, the SHARE Network is carrying out important work in mapping, researching and contextualising good practices in order to increase mutual learning, develop models and extend them to other territories or regions, taking into account multilevel governance and seeking the commitment of different stakeholders. In this way, a pilot programme based on shared responsibility between regional governments and volunteer groups with regard to the reception of newly arrived refugees, which was first implemented in the Basque Country, could be replicated in Navarra and Valencia. Here, the responsibility of regional governments is to contribute to accommodation costs and to financially support NGOs to ensure the coordination of volunteers and to develop a commitment to quality on the part of volunteers.
The Salus Space project has converted an abandoned former hospital into an innovative urban space for the social, cultural and economic integration of migrants and refugees, operating as a multi-level facility for the entire metropolitan area of Bologna, with a total budget of over 6.25 million euros (of which around 5 million euros are co-financed through the ERDF). Co-housing is provided for Italians, migrants and refugees, with the latter, who represent 40%, collaborating in the management of all available activities (restaurant, theatre, etc.). Selection is carried out through a public call for applications followed by interviews to assess the motivation of the candidates and all new participants, regardless of their nationality, must sign a Pact for Collaborative Coexistence and a Charter of Values to become part of the community. The experience is completed with a platform that provides continuous training in different fields of intervention, from which more than 100 people have already benefited.