Migration in cities: A global scenario with local impacts needs a multi-actors cooperation

“What you see in our “Maison de la Métropole” (house of the Metropolis) is a sketch of reinforced cooperation in the metropolitan area - what we call our new metropolitan solidarity outline”. This was the welcome statement of Paul Soubiran, director general of the city of Lyon, to the peer visitors hosted by the city and the Metropole of Lyon last 12 and 13 December during the 7th peer to peer meeting of the MC2CM project on “Inter-institutional coordination in migration governance: Towards improved cooperation”.

This event gathered the participating cities of the project together 3 mayors from Libya and national government delegates of Portugal, Estonia and Chypre as well as UCLG network members: Medcities and Cités Unis France (CUF).

While in the six firsts peer to peer meetings of the project the focus was laid onto thematic aspects linked to migrants’ inclusion at local level (social inclusion and intercultural dialogue, access to basic services, employment, housing, refuges hosting, and education). So it strategic that the seventh, and last of the first phase, focused on governance, which means to deal with opportunities and limitations of being part of a government, meaning local, inter-municipal,  regional or national.

As a matter of facts, migration happens locally, while legal aspects of migration are mainly a national level competency. In other words, migrants are the citizens of tomorrow, and the local governments can only attend them, not reject, judge or select them. Nevertheless, a proper inclusion requires services and policy frameworks handled by several levels of administrations. 

The key to understand a governance framework

In a governance framework, the different levels involved as a sum need to be able to deliver to most efficient services to migrants, thus Inter-institutional coordination is needed.

But Inter-institutional coordination differs - according to the decentralization structure and level, the topic , or the time available for action. During the meeting, participants explored and debated around 4 main forms of inter-institutional coordination: centralist, localist, decoupled and multilevel-governance.

The centralist and localist approaches are the most common once (either a top down or bottom up process), but we can see that the decoupled form is also used in many cases when there is a political opposition between the different levels in the focus to adopt and no dialogue is possible or wanted.

Nonetheless, the participants agreed on the relevance of the multi-level governance approach, which is seen as the ideal scenario in many cases, even if its implementation requires a lot of dialogue, consensus and flexibility, and above all put the citizen at the center of the cooperation, in order to maximize resources and develop efficient policies and programs in a spirit of co-responsibility between the administrations.

After debating on the relevance of these concepts at theoretical level, participants had the opportunity to work in groups around concrete cases of inter-institutional coordination in migration governance. In particular, examples from Turin (metropolitan cooperation with municipalities), Morocco (local implementation of national migration strategy) and Lisbon (diversity as an entry point for horizontal cooperation) have been the starting point of the experience sharing.

The opportunity of Lyon: “Metropolitan cooperation” on social service

The first day of exchanges has been then followed by a field visit where the City and the Metropolis of Lyon explained how they mutualize social services of both levels to offer a better attention to users and maximize resources. Inter-institutional coordination in this case was identified as an opportunity to provide more social services and implement multilevel-governance. This multilevel set up allows not only vertical cooperation, but also a better horizontal cooperation between departments and task, including security task.

This example highlighted key elements for a good Inter-institutional coordination: Political commitment; Technical and financial resources, Quality and efficiency of the services as convergence point; Interests of departments to exchange and coordinate their tasks.

Institutional cooperation: opportunities and barriers in the migration field

During the second day, based on the exchanges and knowledge learned in day one, participants reflected on the situation of inter-institutional cooperation and opportunities, barriers in their countries and regarding migration and integration policies.

In order to optimize the social and economic potential of migrants, local governments need capacities in the field of migration governance, particularly in terms of providing access to rights and services.  In this context the participating cities, networks and national delegates highlighted the need for a more perpetuate and institutionalized cooperation between the state and the local governments, more channels of communication, trainings for staff and funds for action.

The role of the international networks of cities and of the international organizations has been appointed as relevant to support this aspect by bringing knowledge and expertise, supporting exchange and trainings and promoting multi-level dialogue and the role of local governments in the topic.

About the Mediterranean City-to-City Migration Project (MC2CM)

The MC2CM project, funded by the European Union and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, is led by International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) and includes UCLG and UN-Habitat as a partners and UNCHR as associated partner. Participating cities are: Amman, Beirut, Lisbon, Lyon, Madrid, Tangier, Tunis, Turin and Vienna.

The partners of the MC2CM Project seeks a second phase that will engage a broader number of cities and national association of local governments and actors committed to improving the governance of migration at local level in cities in Europe and the Southern Mediterranean. This foreseen second phase will in particular focus on the implementation and monitoring of the learning and policy recommendation of the first part, enlarge the network of active stakeholders and try to deepen the knowledge and technical expertise in the topic tackle in the first phase. 

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