A roundtable seminar ‘City Responses to Irregular Migrants’ was organised by Barcelona City Council and the Centre on Migration, Policy and Society at the University of Oxford, in partnership with EUROCITIES. The aim was to discuss the challenges European cities face in responding to the needs of irregular (undocumented) migrants, to share experiences and ideas that could inform future practices, and to consider whether there would be value in taking forward this learning and dialogue in some form.

The seminar was hosted by Barcelona City Council and supported by funding from the Open Society Fellowship programme, Open Society Initiative for Europe and ESRC Impact Acceleration Account.

Municipal authorities from a number of other European cities had indicated that they would have liked to participate but for different reasons could not attend. This report is also intended to brief those who were interested in discussing the issues and the main findings of the debate.

The participants, including representatives from 11 cities in eight European countries, discussed the challenges and practices municipal authorities have experienced in relation to the provision of services to irregular migrants. The participating cities were Barcelona, Brighton and Hove, Brno, Frankfurt, Genoa, Ghent, Helsinki, The London Borough of Islington, Milan, Terrassa and Utrecht. Over two days, the discussions focused on different aspects of service provision including the implications of exclusion from services, legal challenges, cooperation with non-governmental organisations, coordination with national and European policies, resources and the need for further evidence, data and learning exchange. The discussion of the representatives of municipal authorities was supported by contributions from academic researchers, a representative from an NGO, PICUM, and a legal expert in the field of economic, social and cultural rights. A summary of the presentations and issues raised by participants in discussion, prepared by Nicola Delvino, is attached.

In the final session of the roundtable it was agreed by the participating cities that further discussion and collective action was needed in order to raise awareness of the challenges that cities face in relation to the presence of irregular migrants in their communities and to help cities to address those challenges.

To that end it was agreed that they would seek to establish a working group – as a sub-group, if agreed, of the EUROCITIES Working Group on Migration and Integration – with a remit to:

  • Build a stronger body of evidence on irregular migrants in cities, on the impacts of exclusion from services and of inclusionary measures
  • Share learning on promising practices and policy frameworks in relation to local service provision, focusing in particular on health care, shelter, protection of victims of crime and the particular needs of children
  • Work towards the mainstreaming of irregular migrants within relevant areas of European Union policy and funding

Material from the roundtable

Edited final report city responses to irregular migrants 040115 from Thomas Jézéquel
Presentation city of barcelona from Thomas Jézéquel
Ghent’s responses to irregular migrants from Thomas Jézéquel
Frankfurt barcelona 2014 from Thomas Jézéquel
City of utrecht human rights first, presentation barcelona 16 oktober 14 from Thomas Jézéquel
City of helsinki from Thomas Jézéquel
City of genoa from Thomas Jézéquel


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