Ritva Viljanen, deputy mayor of Helsinki, called for direct access for cities to EU Asylum, Migration & Integration Funding (AMIF) during a panel discussion hosted by European Commission DG Home on 29 September.
She cited the difficulty cities face in accessing the funding due to multiple layers of administration and lengthy processes. She also called for a change to the AMIF regulation which would allow cities to apply for emergency funding which is currently reserved for member states, international organisations and NGOs. She reiterated our position as outlined in our statement on asylum, that cities are on the frontline of the refugee crisis and have been the quickest to react and adapt. In the longer term, cities are best placed to ensure the integration of those who decide to stay in our societies.
Ritva Viljanen was speaking on behalf of EUROCITIES on the first day of the ‘Investing in an open and secure Europe’ conference, gathering representatives from EU institutions and member state administrations. Alongside her on the panel was Péter Niedermüller MEP (HU, S&D), rapporteur of the EU budget 2016 in the Parliament’s civil liberties (LIBE) committee who strongly supported her recommendations on access to funding. He called on the Commission and member states to go beyond the limitations set by the current regulations and give integration funding to the local level, where integration actually happens and money would be best spent.
Also speaking on the panel were Eugenio Ambrosi, director of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM); Fabrice Leggeri, director of FRONTEX; Roberta Metsola MEP (MT, EPP); Laurent Muschel, director for migration and protection at DG Home; and Christian Clos, German special envoy for the refugee crisis.
The conference was opened by Matthias Ruete, director of DG Home and Belinda Pyke, director of migration and mobility at DG Home, who emphasised the key role city networks place in asylum and migration and the need to learn from their good practices.
Follow our ‘cities welcome refugees’ series for more details on what Helsinki and other cities are doing to cope with the refugee crisis.
EUROCITIES is also a partner of the SHARE project.
Pictured:Ritva Viljanen & Péter Niedermüller