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Institutional and Legal Affairs, PUBLICATIONS, Structural and Cohesion Policies

Cohesion policy and the integration of migrants in urban areas

Written by Christiaan van Lierop,

Language training for refugees in a German camp

© Frank Gärtner / Fotolia

With migration largely an urban reality, the successful integration of migrants in our towns and cities is of key importance if Europe is to find a long-term solution to the migrant question. The EU’s cohesion policy can provide support for countries in this area through investments under the European Social Fund (ESF) and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), with the ERDF Regulation introducing a number of new measures to give cities more say in cohesion programming and implementation during the 2014-2020 programming period, including on issues such as the inclusion of migrants.

As the adoption of most of the 2014-2020 operational programmes was completed back in 2015, many countries did not give sufficient priority to supporting migrants in their programming documents. The Commission has called on Member States to re-programme their funding under the ERDF and ESF operational programmes yet few have adjusted their programmes thus far. Stakeholders point to the low-level of involvement of local and regional authorities in decisions on the allocation of structural funds and the modest resources available as factors that limit the extent to which European structural and investment funds can truly support the integration of migrants at local level and have called for a greater role for towns and cities in this area, including direct access to funding.

While the Agenda on Migration has reinforced the importance of cohesion policy for the integration of migrants, with developments such as the Urban Agenda and Urban Innovative Actions enabling cities to get more involved in migrant related policies in their local area, questions remain as to how much cohesion policy can achieve in view of the relatively limited amount of resources available in this area.

Read the complete briefing on ‘Cohesion policy and the integration of migrants in urban areas‘.

Visit the European Parliament page on ‘Integration of refugees in Europe‘.

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