Integration of migrants in middle and small cities and in rural areas in Europe, a study of the Committee of the Regions of the European Union

The Bulgarian Council for Refugees and Migrants and the Multi Kulti Collective present to your attention a study published on the website of the Committee of the Regions of the European Union. The original in English can be found here .

As part of its Cities and Regions for Integration initiative, the EU Committee of the Regions published the study which explores the context and the structures through which medium and small cities have increasingly addressing the needs of migrants and refugees and developing and implementing integration programmes. The study explores the implemented measures and the nature of the actions being undertaken. The report also presents the examined examples from six EU member states, including Bulgaria.

This research shows a relatively positive attitude by many of the cities examined to actively engage with migration generally and integration in particular. Migration is seen as a way to address some of the challenges of the city, and integration provides a way towards ensuring that migrants and refugees are actively contributing to their new homes.

The key findings of this research include:

  • Migrants offer significant benefits to medium and small cities, including by assisting in ensuring the viability of basic services as well as greater diversity and opportunities.
  • Cities, including medium and small cities have often been left to deal with issues that the national level has failed to address.
  • Migrants and refugees also benefit from being in medium and small cities including by having access to closer networks and by benefiting from greater interaction with locals. This for the most part,  this has had a positive impact on the migrants and refugees and their integration prospects.
  • Medium and small cities are more adaptable to changing realities and provide opportunities to test new policy and programming approaches.
  • Medium and small cities are more adaptable to changing realities and provide opportunities to test new policy and programming approaches. This is supported by the reduction in institutional structures as well as the possibility to implement projects at a lower cost.
  • Capacity, including in terms of financial and human resources, is often stretched very thin in medium and small cities especially as these are often left to deal with issues that the national level has been unable to address. Both formal and informal partnerships with civil society organisations have been critical in addressing the limited capacity of government.
  •  There are opportunities for integration in a number of geographically close towns and villages working together to share resources and service provision. Such interaction between local authorities is an element of success in integration provision.
  • Greater coordination is needed between different integration related services at the municipal level, as well as between different levels of government.
  • Municipalities have different powers, competences and resources in different countries. There is a distinction, in various countries, between medium and small cities and their ability and willingness to engage with integration issues

Recommendations for the European Committee of the Regions in the study include:

  • Conduct an EU Wide Needs assessment, addressing the needs of medium, small and rural areas in the integration of migrants and refugees.
  • Provide tailored capacity building support (in the form of training and financial assistance)
  • Expand the programme of sharing good practices in a manner that is usable and accessible.
  • Continue to advocate, on behalf of municipalities, for EU finding to be made more practically accessible.

The Annex to the study includes examples from 6 EU member states, including Bulgaria with examples from Nova Zagora and Haskovo.

The MultiCulti Collective and the Bulgarian Council on Refugees and Migrants are national partners in the European project National Integration Evaluation Mechanism (NIEM), which aims to improve the results of the integration of beneficiaries of international protection. The project is being implemented in 15 EU Member States and creates a mechanism for a comprehensive evaluation of refugee integration, assesses the impact of changes in legislation and policies, and identifies good practices.

More information for the NIEM Project >>>