Gathered in Amsterdam on 7 February for the second edition of the political roundtable on refugees, mayors of cities belonging to the EUROCITIES network (Amsterdam, Athens, Barcelona, Berlin, Gdansk, Ghent, Riga) kept up the pressure on the EU institutions to obtain direct EU funding for cities coping with refugee reception and integration issues, while reaffirming their willingness to play a direct role in the EU’s planned relocation systemRead more
By Laia Ortiz, Barcelona deputy mayor for social rights and chair of the Eurocities Social Affairs Forum.
The refugee crisis is one we must address in our cities. I know this from experience: cities like Barcelona have become hubs for thousands of people seeking international protection.
Long before Germany opened its borders in September 2015, ahead of the height of the crisis, cities like mine have been calling for a more constructive and humanitarian response.
Through Eurocities we have a strong and united voice. Barcelona is among the 139 major European cities calling on the EU institutions for greater solidarity and a more humanitarian response to the crisis.
European city councils have launched an initiative to co-ordinate their responses to the migrant crisis, in defiance of the apathy of some national governments.
Nationalism, if it ever left us, is definitively back in vogue. With nationalist parties resurgent throughout Europe, more and more European nationals are vesting their political hopes in national governments. But for those new migrants without increasingly-coveted EU citizenship, the institutions most likely to come to their aid are not nation states, but local and city governments.Read more
A lack of political will and a hulking bureaucracy frustrate efforts to find a solution to the migrant crisis at the national level. Multilevel governance is the answer.
Towards the end of the summer and the autumn of 2015 some countries, specially, Germany and Sweden experienced an unprecedented flow of refugees who were fleeing the conflicts of Syria, Iraq and Eritrea. More than one million people were hosted in a very short time with the effort of the whole public administration and the citizens. Many cities in those countries collaborated in an extraordinary effort made by the state, regions and länder to solve the human but also the immense logistic challenge.Read more
'Migrants are here, they are living, and we have to guarantee their human rights'
Laia Ortiz discusses how Barcelona is trying to forge its own progressive integration policy for refugees, despite the constraints put on it by the Spanish government and the European Union.
Laia Ortiz is the Deputy Mayor for Social Rights at the City of Barcelona, and a close ally of Mayor Ada Colau. She discusses how Barcelona is trying to forge its own progressive integration policy for refugees, despite the constraints put on it by the Spanish government and the European Union.
'In responding to the refugee crisis, we think cities are among the key actors'
Belinda Pyke, Director for Migration and Mobility at the European Commission DG Home, discusses how the European Commission can get cities and regions involved in forming integration strategies for migrants and refugees.
In the framework of its Solidarity Cities initiative, EUROCITIES concluded an agreement with the foundation “Open Society Institute” for 2017. As part of the activities of the Open Society’s “Education support programme”, EUROCITIES will receive dedicated funding to organise two mentoring visits in 2017 in the field of Education for asylum seekers and refugees in cities. These visits will follow the mentoring methodology used in the ImpleMentoring project.Read more
DG Home of the European Commission confirmed this week that the Cities-Grow project application was approved and would take place from 2017. This is a great news for EUROCITIES and for the 16 European cities involved in this call.
More than ever in the context of the refugee crisis, European city leaders and decision makers need pragmatic, relevant and practical advice to address migrant integration challenges and develop effective migrant integration strategies to help reap on the potential of immigration.
Message of support by Mayor of Ghent Daniel Termont
Daniel Termont, mayor of Ghent, sent a video address to the attendant of the political session organised in the framework of the Social Affairs Forum of EUROCITIES in Athens on 17 October, in support of the Solidarity Cities Initiative.
Official launch of the Solidarity Cities Initiative
The Solidarity Cities initiative was announced at a press conference in Athens on 17th October 2016, following a closed political session gathering 23 mayors and vice-mayors of the EUROCITIES network. Mayor of Athens Georgios Kaminis and vice-mayor of Barcelona Laïa Ortiz presented to journalists the concept of the initiative and the main demands of European cities in terms of direct funding for reception and integration and better involvement of cities in the shaping of migration policy at European and national level.
Greece has been on the frontline of the migrant crisis. How much of this inflow has Athens had to handle?
When the crisis erupted–in August 2015–Athens started receiving hundreds of refugees on a daily basis. More than 900,000 refugees came to Greece last year, the majority of which passed through Athens. So, you can understand the challenge that we had to deal with especially when the country was found completely unprepared to deal with these massive inflows. We were the first municipality to react providing a space for the first camp in Greece that can now host around 2,000 refugees. We had to offer urgent solutions to a problem so largely affecting the city’s normality. After the closing of the borders, flows have decreased but the EU-Turkey agreement is still at stake and we need to be constantly prepared to welcome new waves of refugees and provide emergency relief.
Cities strengthen their response to the refugee situation today with the launch of Solidarity Cities in Athens. An initiative of Giorgios Kaminis, mayor of Athens, Solidarity Cities will consolidate ongoing efforts at local level to receive and integrate refugees and will reinforce these by providing a platform for cities to exchange knowledge and expertise on this highly topical issue.
The initiative was launched today in Athens during the EUROCITIES Social Affairs Forum, following a political discussion between city leaders on how cities can better work together on refugee integration and reception.
Solidarity Cities embodies a humanitarian response to the refugee situation, advocating a fair sharing of responsibilities among EU member states. EUROCITIES published an open letter on World Refugee Day on 20 June this year calling to refocus the debate on the refugee situation in Europe to reflect common European values of solidarity, humanity and dignity. Already, many cities are taking steps to ensure the safe reception and passage of refugees through their territories, as described in our April 2016 report, ‘Refugee reception and integration in cities’.
Solidarity Cities is open to all European cities wishing to work with others around Europe and who are committed to solidarity in the field of refugee reception and integration.Read more
CITIES’ ACTIONS FOR THE EDUCATION OF REFUGEES AND ASYLUM SEEKERS
CITIES’ ACTIONS FOR THE EDUCATION OF REFUGEES AND ASYLUM SEEKERS