The European Agenda on Migration falls primarily within the remit of national governments. However, given the unprecedented challenges, the European Committee of the Regions is calling for the full involvement of local and regional authorities in the implementation of the Agenda given that they often bear the main burden of increased refugee and migrant flows, according to a draft opinion on the European Agenda on Migration, which was adopted by the Commission for Citizenship, Governance, Institutional and External Affairs (CIVEX) today.

Regions on the outermost borders of the EU (such as the Greek Aegean islands close to the Turkish coast, as well as certain island regions of Italy), are the bodies which are tasked with receiving refugees and migrants. It is at this level that measures are taken to take care of, house and look after migrants in conditions that ensure their human dignity. In view of these facts, local and regional authorities need to be involved in every stage of framing and implementing the European Agenda on Migration, including setting priorities, evaluating outcomes, and overseeing the content of government policies.

Rapporteur Dimitrios Kalogeropoulos (EL/EPP), who is politically accountable to the Municipal Council of Palaio Faliro, said:

Increased refugee and migrant flows have posed great challenges to the EU and its member states, especially those which are situated in EU’s external borders. The role of local and regional authorities is therefore of great importance in dealing with these challenges on the spot.” He added “It is also essential that the EU continue its efforts to establish and strengthen the common European framework for migration and asylum policy. Solidarity among EU member states is the key word for successfully dealing with all those issues.

The opinion identifies the following five areas for action:

  1. an immediate response and provision of help to Member States where urgent situations exist owing to increased refugee or migratory flows
  2. reducing the incentives for a continuation of irregular migration
  3. management of the EU’s external borders
  4. political asylum
  5. management of legal migration and integration of migrants into society.
  6. The specific recommendations and responses include beefing up the assistance provided to Member States on the frontline of migrant and refugee arrivals, with particular emphasis on supporting local and regional authorities in regions, which receive the bulk of refugees and migrants owing to their geographical location and returning irregular migrants and the integration of third-country nationals as swiftly and as fully as possible whilst taking specific local features in the host countries and of the particularities and diversity of the third-country nationals into account.

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