The VIth Integrating Cites Conference took place in Tampere on 9 & 10 September 2013 and gathered more than 160 delegates from 40 cities as well as representatives of Civil Society Organisations and international bodies such as the European Commission, the Council of Europe, the Committee of Regions and the United Nations.
Opened on Monday 9 September by Anna-Kaisa Ikonen, mayor of Tampere, and Paul Bevan, Secretary General of EUROCITIES, the conference alternated political plenary sessions and workshops covering the most topical issues faced by European cities in the field of migrant integration. Also, for the first time since its inception, Integrating Cities broadened its scope to include a global debate including an exchange with cities from outside of Europe such as Toronto, Canada.
Ramon Sanahuja I Vélez, chair of the EUROCITIES Migration & Integration Working Group, presented the findings of the first “Integrating Cities Charterimplementation report. Marco Martiniello, director of Center for Ethnic and Migration Studies at the University of Liege, reacted to these findings and presented his views on the future of migrants’ integration in European cities, expressing a “quiet optimism” and his hopes for the development of a multicultural local citizenship in the EU.
Seven politicians from the cities of Athens, Brussels, Genoa, Helsinki, Manchester, Rotterdam and Tampere reacted to Martiniello’s proposals, demonstrating how integration works in practice in their cities.
Three new cities became signatories of the EUROCITIES Integrating Cities Charter: Brussels, Montpellier and Toulouse joined the 27 previous signatories and committed to the principles outlined in the Charter.
Stefano Manservisi, director general of DG Home Affairs of the European Commission reacted to concerns voiced by politicians regarding undocumented migrants, integration implications of movement of people within the EU as well as European funding instruments.
He reafirmed the Commission’s attempts to push the local agenda on integration – via legislative and funding proposals and invited cities to contribute to the national funding programmes of the new Asylum and Migration Fund currently under discussion. He also invited cities to provide input to the next strategic document of the EU in the area of freedom, security and justice andacknowledged the importance of continuing the good work of cities of transferring knowledge and collecting evidence through projects such as ImpleMentoring.
Twelve workshops and ten speed-networking sessions allowed cities representatives to find out more about their peers’ practices and to present their own initiatives. The three “ImpleMentoring workshops” were particularly successful; as they presented the preliminary findings of this EUROCITIES project involving 14 cities in a city-to-city mentoring scheme. Sessions on undocumented migrants, migration & development and EU mobility also attracted a strong interest.
The conference was followed on Wednesday 11 September by a joint meeting of the EUROCITIES Migration & Integration working group and of the ImpleMentoring partners, where the five videos of the ImpleMentoring projects as well as 6 action plans were launched.
The next phase of EUROCITIES Migration & Integration activities will be the continuation of the ImpleMentoring project, with a last mentoring visit from Amsterdam to Athens from 15 to 18 October, and four thematic cluster meetings in Genoa, Oslo, Manchester and Malmö early 2014.