Concept: Integration of Refugees in Europe as a joint municipal development

The growing Euroscepticism, the lack of solidarity among member states, and the large number of migrants dying while trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea show the urgent need for the EU to pursue a common asylum and refugee policy that is in line with its European values.
The EU could make a positive new start by turning the reception of refugees into an opportunity for human enrichment, economic recovery and mitigation of
demographic changes.

The project “Integration of refugees in Europe as a joint municipal development” aims at decentralizing the reception and integration of refugees by providing the
municipalities, who already take on the main task of integration, new leeway and resources through additional funding for municipal development. Building on municipalities which are willing to receive and integrate refugees, relocation should be voluntary with both municipalities and refugees’ interests respected in the process. Municipalities that voluntarily take in and integrate refugees should not only be refunded the costs of receiving the refugees, but also given resources that they can use to improve the municipal infrastructure (schools, administration, promotion of trades and crafts). This could also inject greater human and economic vitality into the EU, which is in its interest:

  1. Municipalities whose inhabitants are moving away could acquire new citizens who give them new life, work there and boost tax revenue;
  2. Existing infrastructure at risk of closure (nurseries, schools, medical care, housing supply, mobility, trade) can be used again and where appropriate developed;
  3. New cultural, sports and other projects in which the (new) citizens cooperate with one another could bring closer social cohesion and inject new (meaningful) life into the municipalities again, improve the atmosphere and counter the widespread, diffuse fear of the future;
  4. This could create a new coherence between proclaimed European values and individual action, which would boost the self-esteem, reputation and authority of EU citizens.

This innovative approach was introduced at the one-day conference “Relaunching Europe Bottom-Up” (June 7, 2017, read the conference report here.) Based on the conference, a manifesto was defined with the participants (read the entire Manifesto here.) It calls for the European Union to create a publicly financed fund starting with the next EU Multiannual Financial Framework in 2021. Municipalities should be able to apply to this fund and receive direct and holistic financing for refugee integration and – additionally to be more inclusive – funds for the communities’ general social integration and economic development. To generate as much support as possible from the broad community, the application should be prepared by a multi-stakeholder-group of representatives of the community, organized civil society (including refugee representatives, social partners and religious groups), and business.

First signatories of the manifesto

Steffen Angenendt, Research Division Global Issues Head of Research Division at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs Henryka Bochniarz, President of the Polish Confederation Lewiatan Andreas Botsch, Head of the department Europe and International and German Trade Union Confederation (DGB )Federal Board Franziska Brantner, Member of the German Bundestag Group Alliance 90 / The Greens Daphne Büllesbach, Executive Director at European Alternatives and a member of the Transnational Board Klaus Busch, Retired professor for European Studies at the University of Osnabrück Georges Dassis, acting as a private individual Inga Dohmes, Volunteer with the Municipality of Merzenich Sebastian Dullien, Professor at HTW – University of Applied Sciences and Senior Policy Fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations Peter Eigen, Founder and Chair of the Advisory Council at Transparency International Detlev Ganten, President of the World Health Summit Sven Giegold, Member of the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance in European Parliament Yannick Haan, Speaker of the Forum Network Policy of the SPD in Berlin and Member of the Commission on Net and media politics in the SPD party board Jörg Hafkemeyer, Professor at the Berlin University of Arts and publicist Dierk Hirschel, ver.di National Administration Johannes Hiry, Young Social Democrats Saar Reiner Hoffmann, Federal Chairman of the German Trade Union and Federation (DGB) Gustav Horn, Professor of Economics at the University Duisburg-Essen Horstpeter Kreppel, Former Judge and President of chamber of the Civil Service Tribunal of the European Union Inge Kaul, Professor at the Hertie School of Governance Katja Kipping, Member of the German Bundestag DIE LINKE Cansel Kiziltepe, Member of the German Bundestag SPD Matthias Kollatz-Ahnen, Financial Affairs Senator Berlin Lukas Krüdener, Young Social Democrats Berlin Christophe Leclercq, EURACTIV founder and publisher Klaus Lederer, Berlin mayor and Senator for Culture and Europe Jo Leinen, Member of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in European Parliament Irena Lipowicz, Member of the Foundation Council of the European University Viadrina Andreas Listing, acting as a private individual Anja Mihr, Program Director of the Center on Governance through Human Rights at the HUMBOLDT-VIADRINA Governance Platform Hans Misselwitz, Member of the SPD-Grundwertekommission Patricia Okello, Manager, co-founder and chief executive of the  Der Zeitgeist ShareITY e.V. Lazaros Panagiotidis, City of Thessaloniki Maria João Rodrigues, Member of European Parliament  and Vice-Chair of Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament Wolfgang Roth, acting as a private individual Peter Ruhenstroth-Bauer, Attorney-at-law and former state secretary Gerhard Schick, Member of the German Bundestag Group Alliance 90 / The Greens Günther Schmid,Director emeritus “Labour market policies and Employment” at the WZB Berlin Social Science Center Nicolas Schmit, Minister for Labor, Employment and Social and Solidarity Economy with the Government Of The Grand Duchy Of Luxembourg Harald Schumann, Journalist and Film maker Angelica Schwall-Düren, Former state secretary. Gesine Schwan, President of the HUMBOLDT-VIADRINA Governance Platform Norbert Spinrath, Member of the German Bundestag SPD Dieter Spöri, Former Minister and Honorary president of the European Movement Germany Jutta Steinruck, Member of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in European Parliament Johano Strasser, Member of the SPD-Grundwertekommission Rita Süssmuth, Former German president Holger Thiel, acting as a private individual Franz Thun, Warsaw, acting as a private individual Carolina Tobo Axel Troost, Deputy Party Chairman DIE LINKE Johanna Uekermann, Chairman of the Jusos in the SPD Mauricio Valiente, Deputy Mayor of Madrid Florian von Brunn, Chairman of the working group environment and consumer protection of the BayernSPD parliamentary group Heidemarie Wieczorek Zeul, former Federal minister Magda Wiśniewska, acting as a private individual Harald Wolf,Member of the Berlin House of Representatives and former Senator and member of the party board DIE LINKE Catherine Woollard, Secretary General European Council on Refugees and Exiles Agata Wróblewska, acting as a private individual Gabriele Zimmer, Member of the Group of the Confederal Group of the European United Left – Nordic Green Left  in European Parliament