First Admin4All regional Conference: connecting European municipalities

On November 28th, 14 cities from Italy, Austria, Romania and Poland met in Brussels to exchange experiences on improving the delivery of socio economic services to migrants and refugees. The meeting is the culmination of the first phase of the ADMIN4ALL program, “Supportive Active Inclusion of Disadvantaged Migrants in Europe“, a regional initiative implemented by IOM and funded by the European Commission DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion.   The event brought together representatives from: Bari, Florence, Naples and Milan in Italy; Bruck an der Leitha, Tulln, Korneuburg in Austria; Poznań, Warsaw, Wroclav, Gdansk and Bydgoszcz in Poland; and Bucharest and Cluj-Napoca in Romania.

Over the last two years, ADMIN4ALL conducted a detailed assessment of the capacity building needs of the 14 municipalities in the program. On the basis of this assessment, a training curriculum was developed and a series of training sessions for municipal social services and immigration departments were conducted in all program cities, reaching more than 500 people. These trainings were followed by peer-exchange visits that allowed each municipality to learn the way another city manages social services for increasingly diverse populations.

The event in Brussels provided a chance to take stock of the work done in the first phase of the programme, discuss the good practices and the challenges identified in the program cities, but also identify opportunities for future capacity-building of municipalities with the goal to strengthen, and render more accessible, municipal services for migrants in Europe.

Emmanuelle Grange, Head of Unit Disability and Inclusion, recognized that while migration policy and legislation is made at the national level, it is cities and municipalities that play a crucial role in providing basic services to migrants and refugees and in facilitating their integration in host societies. The EU Action Plan on the Integration of third-country nationals, adopted in June 2016, includes concrete actions to support local and regional authorities in their integration efforts Federico Soda, the Director of the IOM Coordination office for the Mediterranean, acknowledged how increasing diversity, coupled with entrenched disadvantage and marginalization of some groups, are increasingly challenges for the development of inclusive local communities. Ensuring adequate service delivery to new, diverse and growing populations poses the biggest challenge.

Across the 14 program cities, municipal services remain the first, and often the last, point of call for vulnerable migrants, and the number of people requesting support and the types of vulnerabilities encountered are on the rise, putting unprecedented pressures on service providers. This while outdated national legal frameworks weaken the ability of municipalities to respond to these challenges and years of austerity have drastically cut precious resources and the capacity of cities.

The ADMIN4ALL program aims to strengthen the capacity of local social service providers to manage migration, by supporting a multi-stakeholder and multi-sectoral approach, based on strong local coordination, as well as partnerships with other cities, regional or national governments, civil society and migrants’ associations.