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Putting the spotlight on the integration of migrants and refugees

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The first and second UIA Call for Proposals have both included the topic of the integration of migrants and refugees. Here we explore the topic’s importance for the UIA and what our first funded projects are implementing.

With the UIA second Call for Proposals closing on 14 April where urban authorities can apply under the topic of the integration of migrants and refugees, we wanted to put the spotlight on this important subject and on the work the first UIA projects are doing under this policy field. In addition over the next months, there will be different events and meetings such as World Refugee Day taking place at EU and global level that will further stress the importance of the issue.


The topic of the integration of migrants and refugees is part of the Urban Agenda for the EU as well as being high in the political agenda of most cities. This is because cities are undoubtedly at the forefront of this situation as they are often the first port of call for migrants due to the level and quality of services and infrastructure that they provide. As most migrants settle in cities it is important to involve urban authorities in shaping and implementing immigration and integration policies. Even if traditionally this policy has been handled at national level, urban authorities have a large role in this field as policy makers, service providers, employers and purchasers of goods and services.


In the past years, there has been an increased need to look at integration measures as cities in the European Union have been asked to deal with sizeable and sudden population movements especially from nationals of war-torn countries that have put sudden pressure on their services. This situation has not only challenged cities but has also encouraged them to put forward new and innovative solutions to manage an effective integration into their urban fabric. In 2016, the Urban Innovative Actions Initiative was able to fund a select few to put these bold ideas on the ground and test new paths for integration.


Four cities proposing new integration methods


In the first UIA Call for Proposals, four projects were selected for their innovative solutions in tackling integration: CURANT in Antwerp, S.A.L.U.S ‘W’ SPACE in Bologna, U-RLP in Utrecht and CoRE in Vienna.
The four projects selected propose to tackle the challenge in different ways, whether it’s targeting specific groups at high risk of exclusion or by providing and tailoring social municipal services that would not have previously been given to this collective. In Antwerp, young unaccompanied refugees who have reached the age of adulthood but are no longer able to benefit from social protection will have the opportunity to take part in a housing scheme where they are matched with young local citizens (buddies) and given training and job opportunities. The City of Bologna will look to foster the social, cultural and economic inclusion of migrants integrating different services in a new refurbished centre and allowing migrants to acquire new skills and build micro-enterprises for community services in the neighbourhood. Asylum seekers’ entrepreneurial skills will be capitalised in the City of Utrecht combining community housing and learning activities. The City of Vienna will create a one-stop-shop for refugees that will bring together municipal services with grass roots initiatives through new forms of social cooperatives.


In Utrecht and Antwerp refugees will play an active role to respectively enter as quickly as possible in the labour market and co-design tailor made welfare services (combined with an innovative housing solution in Antwerp). In Bologna and Vienna they are key actors for the co-design (and for the physical renovation) of one-stop-shops and will be empowered to run some of the services that the centres will offer to the surrounding communities.
The four projects are looking to prevent issues that could rise in the future as a consequence of poor integration measures such as the exclusion of migrants and refugees from the labour market, housing, health and education services.
Read about the first UIA projects under the topic of the integration of migrants and refugees here. You can find out further about the innovative elements of these projects in our paper on innovation in the framework of the UIA.


As a reminder for those urban authorities wishing to submit a proposal under this topic in the second Call for Proposals, please be aware that the scope of the topic has been further defined therefore please read the topic description. The UIA Initiative will not fund the same idea twice consequently all new proposals should complement those actions already funded in the first Call.

You can find out further about the work being done at European level through the Urban Agenda for the EU partnership on the European Commission’s website.