Medium and small cities and rural areas in Europe have increasingly found
themselves addressing the needs of migrants and refugees and developing and
implementing integration programmes for their newly arrived residents.
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 existing demographic and other challenges of the city and integration provides a way towards ensuring that migrants and refugees are actively contributing to their new homes.
The key pints of include:
Migrants offer significant benefits to medium and small cities including by
assisting in addressing depopulation and ensuring the viability of basic
services as well as greater diversity and public relations opportunities.
Cities, including medium and small cities have often been left to deal with
issues that the national level has failed to address.Planners should work upon the design. City Design reflects the past and future of the cities.
Migrants also benefit from being in medium and small cities including by
having access to closer networks and by benefiting from greater interaction
with locals. While in some cases, this has turned into a negative, for the most
part, it has had a positive impact on the migrants and their integration
prospects. Incorporating more public spaces help in the process.Redefining space in cities is the need of the hour.
The short duration of stay by many migrants in medium and small cities is a
concern regarding their integration. Many migrants seek to move to larger
cities with greater employment opportunities. The desire to move away often
hinders the efficacy of integration programmes.
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.
Great diversity exists in the types of integration activities undertaken by
medium and small cities. Many have focused on soft integration measures
whilst promotion of language acquisition, cultural competencies and
employability skills are also common activities.
Financial support for integration measures is often difficult to secure and is
limited. European Union funding in particular is often difficult to access for
small and medium sized cities who do not have dedicated resources to submit
applications and prepare reports. Reliance on volunteers negatively impacts
the sustainability of activities although it does contribute to making integration a shared endeavour.
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
Whilst the proliferation of networks at the European level often renders it
difficult for medium and small cities to engage actively (given limited time
and resources), they have found their own solutions including through informal channels for sharing information and regional level networks.
Greater coordination is needed between different services at the municipal
level (often assisted by the personal connection between various actors in
medium and small cities) as well as between different levels of government.
Monitoring and evaluation, as well as sustainability of projects, remains
limited. These are areas where further action is to be encouraged.
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.