European Integration and Development Fund
Municipalities that are willing to take in refugees should be strengthened with financial support. For this purpose, an EU fund should be established to which municipalities can directly apply for financial resources. Beyond the costs of reception and integration, municipalities can receive funds in the same amount for their own municipal development. This gives the entire municipality a new development perspective.
Municipalities that want to take on more responsibility would thus have the financial means to do so. In addition, cities and municipalities could experience a revival not only economically, but also culturally, since additional funds could be available, for example, for cultural projects. Within the European Union, this could trigger a positive dynamic. As soon as some cities set a good example and show that the whole community – residents and newcomers – benefits from the voluntary reception of refugees, other cities are more likely to follow. Cities could put pressure on their governments to allow them to welcome refugees and thus access EU funds.
This independent Development and Integration Fund for municipalities would realise several goals at the same time:
1.) A strong pan-European signal from cities and municipalities for the reception of refugees in Europe,
2.) the strengthening of the commitment to Europe through the participation of citizens and municipalities, and
3.) the initiation of a decentralised, sustainable growth initiative at the local level.
4.) It will also enable smaller and medium-sized municipalities to create the necessary infrastructure to receive and integrate refugees. This would allow those seeking protection to also settle outside big cities.
Given the complex nature of EU funding applications, it is vital to also support municipal administrations in these processes. Funding should be earmarked for training of administrative personal as well as addition staff for the municipal administration.
The Friedrich Ebert Foundation Brussels has commissioned a legal opinion on our concept. It can be downloaded under “Publications”.