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With European cities newly on the front line for migrant integration, new MPI Europe–IOM report maps emerging governance models for inclusion
Press Release
Thursday, May 28, 2020

With European cities newly on the front line for migrant integration, new MPI Europe–IOM report maps emerging governance models for inclusion

BRUSSELS — Migration has transformed communities across Europe. While increasingly superdiverse major cities such as Berlin, Paris and Stockholm are often the focal point of debates about migrant inclusion, less attention has been given to cities along key migrant transit routes, those still new to managing diversity, or smaller localities. Yet these cities on the front line are facing significant challenges adapting to recent influxes of asylum seekers and other migrants, with their infrastructure and services strained and newcomers struggling to find a toehold in tight housing markets and local economies.

As these localities work to support newcomers into work, expand school and child-care places and meet mental-health needs—often against the backdrop of fluctuating migration flows, limited resources and local authority over integration matters, rapidly changing national legislation and mercurial public opinion—successful governance approaches are emerging.

A new report from Migration Policy Institute Europe and the International Organization for Migration, European Cities on the Front Line: New and emerging governance models for migrant inclusion, maps some of the most important approaches, with a particular focus on cities and towns in Southern as well as Central and Eastern Europe that are facing particularly challenging situations.

‘Cities face the challenge of designing services capable of meeting the needs of diverse groups, including immigrants with varying legal statuses and associated access to public services, to reduce the risk that they fall through the gaps of support systems’, said the report’s author, MPI Europe Policy Analyst Liam Patuzzi. ‘Yet, they must do so without fuelling accusations that newcomers are “jumping the queue” amid rising xenophobia and anxiety over competition for scarce resources’.

Drawing from interviews with government officials, public service providers, migrant organisations, social enterprises and the private sector in communities in Austria, Greece, Italy, Malta, Poland, Romania and Spain, the report offers several recommendations to improve the governance of migrant and refugee integration, including:

  • Make migrant inclusion a credible whole-of-community issue. Highlighting the cross-cutting relevance of immigrant integration allows localities to better coordinate support across policy areas—from housing and education to employment and health care.
  • Promote inclusive partnerships with civil society. Strong collaboration between local authorities and non-governmental entities is a key factor for the success of local integration governance, especially where budgets are thin and city hall lacks expertise in migration-specific issues.
  • Involve immigrants in local democratic processes in ways that are meaningful. Municipal migrant councils have become widespread across Europe, but they have sometimes been empty exercises. Giving migrant councils a budget and leeway to develop their own initiatives, as in Palermo and Gdansk, can increase motivation and visibility.

The report, commissioned as part of the ADMin4ALL – Supporting Social Inclusion of Vulnerable Migrants in Europe project, can be found here: www.migrationpolicy.org/research/european-cities-governance-migrant-inclusion.  

ADMin4ALL, which aims to enhance the capacity of local governments to develop sustainable strategies and inclusive services for the successful social and economic integration of migrants, is a project administered by the International Organization for Migration and funded by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion. For more on ADMin4ALL, visit: https://admin4all.eu/.


MPI Europe provides authoritative research and practical policy design to governmental and non-governmental stakeholders who seek more effective management of immigration, immigrant integration and asylum systems, as well as better outcomes for newcomers, families of immigrant background and receiving communities throughout Europe. MPI Europe also provides a forum for the exchange of information on migration and immigrant integration practices within the European Union and Europe more generally. For more, visit www.mpieurope.org.