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Regions & Cities 2018: A deep dive into the EU regional funds

  • Text
  • European
  • Regions
  • Funds
  • Cohesion
  • Cities
  • Regional
  • Countries
  • Euobserver
  • Funding
  • Eastern
The European Union has allocated around €350bn for the 2014-2020 period to cohesion policy – accounting for a full third of the EU budget. Only the EU's agriculture policy receives more.

€10.4bn asylum and

€10.4bn asylum and migration fund (AMF), to address immediate needs like reception and healthcare. The AMF plan is to support long-term integration under the EU's cohesion funds, and in particular the regional development fund. Some six percent of the fund has been earmarked for urban development, which can also include integration programmes. The commission also promised less red tape. It means, among other things, that a small percentage of the money can be shuffled around to different priorities without any paper work. But whether such initiatives will trickle down to the people most in need remains to be seen. Many face poverty, social exclusion, and segregation as some grapple with language and unemployment. Austria earlier this year proposed lowering monthly refugees' benefit payments if they don't speak German. Some asylum seekers and refugees are also located to rural areas of Europe, far away from the big cities where they are more likely to find a fellow diaspora. Meanwhile, an Eurobarometer on integration in April found that most people tend to overestimate the number of non-EU immigrants. HOSTILE LOCALS? It also found local populations with few immigrants are the most unlikely to think integration is a success, and that immigrants have had a positive impact. "The more unemployment among the nativeborn people, the more reluctant they will be visa-vis migrant arrivals," said Claire Charbit, who oversees regional development policy at the OECD, at a June conference organised by the Council of European Municipalities and Regions. A survey of migrant-integration policies across 10 European cities, conducted by the OECD, found more than two-thirds of foreign-born people live in metropolitan areas, while asylum seekers are more dispersed. Charbit, who conducted the research, said the biggest problem facing local authorities when it comes to integration is a lack of information sharing among different levels of government. "There will be no integration if you do not take into Refugee and asylum centre in the Belgium city Liege. Photo: European Parliament 30 — REGIONS & CITIES 2018

The second biggest headache is making sure integration policies and work programmes are widespread, she said, noting "you cannot just offer them [migrants] a house and nothing else." Such a long-term and local approach requires dedicated policy and political commitment. Some efforts are under way. Last December, the commission had signed a 'European Partnership for Integration' with the European Trade Union Confederation and BusinessEurope, among others to help refugees find jobs more quickly. "All actors – public and private - need to do their part to successfully integrate refugees and this is why we want to join forces," said EU migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos at the time. Athens' mayor Georgios Kaminis: 'We have the responsibility, we have the burden, so I think we deserve to have the right to direct access of European funds.' Photo: European Commission The pact is part of the Urban Agenda for the EU, launched in May 2016, to better coordinate cooperation between the different levels of government. account the differences among places. The issues are not the same, the questions and the realities are not the same, so you need to adopt a placedbased approach," she said. An abandoned hotel in Athens turned into a refuge. Photo: Nikolaj Nielsen 31 — REGIONS & CITIES 2018

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