Integrating migrants and refugees is one of the major challenges that European towns and regions currently have to face – from lack of resources to lack of coordination with national and European governments.
During the European Council meeting on 20 and 21 October, heads of EU Member States got together and dealt with migration issues, discussing the current state of play and setting out their orientations for the future. In their conclusions, they do not mention the local or regional level. Unfortunately, they focus almost exclusively on the external dimension of the migration issue
, such as strengthening external border checks and tightening control of the Eastern Mediterranean route.
The migration issue is local: towns and regions’ needs should be a priority
The migration issues we have at home, in our towns and regions, are extremely important, and should not be avoided. It is disappointing that local and regional governments have not been taken into account by Member States, when towns and regions are the ones that have to deal with the refugee crisis and integrate migrants on a day-to-day basis. Local and regional governments urgently need targeted funding in order to be able to deal with this issue.
Integration, which defines the way we live together, is not addressed either. It seems more urgent than ever to establish a permanent dialogue between national, regional and local governments on migration. European towns and regions expect Member States to consider the whole scope of the migration issue, especially what happens at home.
Nevertheless, every cloud has a silver lining: in its conclusions, the European Council calls upon Member States to further intensify their efforts to accelerate relocation. This is a particularly important point for local and regional governments: out of 160,000 refugees that Member States said they would relocate last year, only 6,000 have been relocated so far. European towns and regions will be counting on Member States to keep this commitment.
If you believe EU Member States should also address local needs on the ground when discussing migration policy, sign and share CEMR petition
: the association of local and regional governments call on European states to act for refugees with towns and regions. This petition follows the call launched by CEMR
for a real common European asylum policy, which was signed by over 120 local and regional leaders, such as mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo
, mayor of Brussels, Yvan Mayeur
and mayor of Athens, Giorgos Kaminis