Concluded / Concluso
A seventh online peer-to-peer exchange was organized on 18 February between the municipalities of Madrid and Thessaloniki to discuss integration challenges and good practices. The meeting, opened and moderated by IOM, saw the participation of the Deputy Mayor for Migration Policy of the Greek city, alongside the municipal director for social protection and public health. The Spanish capital was represented by the newly appointed Social Inclusion director and the head of the Immigration and Refugee department.
The municipal representatives of Madrid pointed out the challenges they face in terms of reception, social participation, integration, social inclusion and peaceful coexistence, and reviewed the initiatives they have implemented to mitigate the impact of Covid 19. They also detailed their objectives, which include facilitating the intercultural coexistence of the residents of the city of Madrid, guaranteeing adequate attention to all residents, regardless of their nationality or administrative situation. Moreover, they explained the socio-demographic data, as well as the resources and to whom they are destined, their funding and structure. Finally, they compared the data and resources presented by the Greek representatives and identified many synergies and common challenges between the two administrations.
The representatives of Thessaloniki stated that the Municipality is committed to the integration of third country nationals, both to safeguard social cohesion and to promote local development. In this regard, the Municipality is engaging in local, national and international cooperation and restructures services and structures, so as to holistically address the challenges faced in an effort to promote the integration of refugees and migrants. Reference was also made to the services of the Directorate – which include the integration agenda, specializing on the Municipality’s participation in reception accommodation programs. Finally, reference was made to the particular conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic, where all services continue to be provided remotely, with emphasis on the prevention measures and the protection of public health.
The representatives of both municipalities expressed the intention to further enhance mutual information and exchange in order to learn more from each other and better understand how to adapt and replicate some of the respective good integration practices.
The meeting was part of the EU-funded project ADMin4ALL, which aims at enhancing the capacity of local authorities across 7 EU Member States (Austria, Greece, Italy, Malta, Poland, Romania, and Spain) in the area of migrant integration, including through fostering the exchange of good practices among participating municipalities, while contributing to the creation of an EU-wide community of cities committed to integration.