Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR)
European section of United Cities and Local Governments

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Governance and citizenship

World refugee day - 20.06.2016

With genuine coordination, local governments can better handle integration
Today is World Refugee Day, and also the day the European Commission has chosen to present its Action Plan to help with the integration of migrants to civil society. This Action Plan takes into account the role of local governments, but could still be improved – it is therefore an ideal opportunity for CEMR to announce several necessary steps for the integration of refugees at the local level.

What needs to be done?

•    Improve assessment of how multilevel governance works

At the moment, nobody is monitoring whether coordination is working or not. More monitoring is desperately needed on how multilevel governance works – coordination on paper is not enough, it’s real implementation that counts. Moreover, the partnership principle needs to be better implemented and a common criteria needs to be defined, for all programs and initiatives on the national and European level.

•    Include representatives of associations of local and regional governments in the European Integration Network

The Commission’s Action Plan will create a European Integration Network, for better coordination between national, regional and local players – but associations of local governments are not in it. As the announced aim of the network is to “strengthen coordination between the different actors working on integration at national, regional and local level”, it seems logical for associations of local governments to be included.

•    Increase targeted resources for towns and cities to improve integration

Local governments lack the necessary resources for the successful integration of refugees. For example, within the EU’s Asylum Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF), only 20% of the budget is dedicated to integration – and local governments are on the frontline of dealing with this issue.

•    Shift from a short-term to a long-term vision when tackling the refugee crisis

Security, departure and arrival of refugees are certainly important now, but in the long run, the integration of refugees is what will have the biggest impact on our societies.

These changes are all needed for a better integration of refugees at the local level. The upcoming review of the Multiannual Financial Framework and the Partnership on the Inclusion of Migrants and Refugees will be opportunities to help implement these changes.

CEMR will keep on mobilising all European mayors, and will keep on calling upon European institutions to take into account the real needs on the ground.
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