European states, it’s time you act for refugees with towns and regions
We call upon European states to:
- implement and monitor efficient relocation procedures for 160,000+ refugees, as agreed upon in 2015 (less than 6,000 have been relocated so far, which is less than 4%)
- guarantee towns and regions have the necessary resources to host refugees via targeted financing
- establish a permanent dialogue between national, regional and local governments on this issue.
Local and regional leaders are at the forefront of the challenge to host refugees and preserve social cohesion in their territories. They are the ones who make sure that refugees, who are often worn out by the hardships they face, have access to accommodation, social assistance and healthcare.
Although local leaders pursue their mission to host refugees with full determination, they cannot be left alone to face the key challenge of social integration. To keep their promises and overcome this humanitarian crisis, they need real support from all levels of political leadership, from national governments as well as from the European Union.
Last summer, heads of state and government agreed on a plan to relocate 160,000 refugees over a period of two years. One year later, although a vast majority of Europeans want increased intervention from the European Union on migration issues, its record on the matter is far from great. Less than 6,000 refugees have been relocated to any European country. These numbers alone show the inaction demonstrated by some of our national leaders. As heads of state go from one European summit to another, local and regional leaders mobilise support and take action.
For this reason, we call for the implementation of monitored and well-managed relocation procedures; going a step further than the agreement reached in September 2015 for the relocation of 160,000 refugees in Greece and Italy, under the protection of international and European law.
Following the principles of solidarity and fairness, this permanent relocation system for refugees in all EU countries needs to be done directly from the main registration centres and EU neighbouring countries, guaranteeing them safe passage.
However, to stay true to our values, towns, cities and regions have to be able to align both the regulation of migration flows and the pursuit of local public action for solidarity. To this end, European institutions and member states need to guarantee access to the necessary resources to host refugees, via targeted financing for the towns and regions that host them.
The support that we call for goes hand in hand with a consultation between local, regional and national governments in order to be able to better coordinate operations and to relocate refugees in a fair and equal manner between all towns and regions in Europe.
Just as importantly, it is essential to encourage the exchange of best practices and cooperation between European local governments in this field. They do not all have the same capabilities or the same experience to be able to guarantee the successful integration of refugees.
As local and regional leaders, it is their duty to give a concrete, fast and collective response to one of the biggest humanitarian challenges that Europe has had to face. As Europeans, it is their duty to hold high the banner of solidarity and human dignity, and to defend and reaffirm these values. It is also what we expect from our national and European leaders.
This petition follows up on the call launched by the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR) for a real common European asylum policy. By signing this petition, you also support the call.
This call was adopted by CEMR’s member associations on 20 April 2016 in Nicosia, and has been signed by the following local and regional elected representatives:
Mayor of Athens, Giorgos Kaminis
Mayor of Brussels, Yvan Mayeur
Mayor of Nicosia, Constantinos Yiorkadjis
Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo
Mayor of Lisbon, Fernando Medina
Mayor of Vienna, Michael Häupl
Mayor of Munich, Dieter Reiter
Mayor of Nuremberg, Ulrich Maly
Mayor of Salzburg, Heinz Schaden
Mayor of Palermo, Leoluca Orlando
Mayor of Santander, Iñigo de la Serna
Mayor of Bucharest (sector 3), Robert Sorin Negoiță
Mayor of Portimão, Isilda Gomes
Acting Mayor of Charleroi, Françoise Daspremont
Mayor of Leiria, Raul Castro
Mayor of Lesbos, Spyros Galinos
Mayor of Kos, Giorgos Kyritsis
Mayor of Aci Sant’Antonio, Santo Caruso
Mayor of Schiedam, Cor Lamers
President of the region of Emilia-Romagna, Stefano Bonaccini
President of the region of Hannover, Hauke Jagau
Presidents of associations of local and regional governments
President of CEMR, Íñigo de la Serna
President of CEMR Italian Section (AICCRE), Stefano Bonaccini
President of the Association of Romanian Municipalities (AMR), Robert Sorin Negoiță
President of the Association of Cities and Municipalities of the Brussels Capital Region (AVCB-VSGB), Marc Cools
President of the German County Association (Deutscher Landkreistag), Reinhard Sager
President of the German Association of Cities (Deutscher Städtetag), Eva Lohse
President of the Association of Basque Municipalities (EUDEL), Imanol Landa Jáuregi
President of the Spanish Federation of Municipalities and Provinces (FEMP), Abel Caballero
President of the Central Union of Municipalities of Greece (KEDE), Giorgos Patoulis
President of the Association of Local Authorities in Lithuania (LPA), Ričardas Malinauskas
President of the National Association of Municipalities in the Republic of Bulgaria (NAMRB), Daniel Panov
President of the Austrian Association of Municipalities (Österreichischer Gemeindebund), Helmut Mödlhammer
President of the Austrian Association of Cities and Towns (Österreichischer Städtebund), Michael Häupl
President of the German Section of CEMR (RGRE), Georg Huber
President of the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SALAR), Lena Micko
President of the Association of Luxembourg Cities and Municipalities (SYVICOL), Emile Eicher
President of the Union of Cyprus Municipalities (UCM), Alexis Galanos
President of the Union of Cities and Municipalities of Wallonia (UVCW), Jacques Gobert
President of the Association of Netherlands Municipalities (VNG), Jan van Zanen
President of the Association of Flemish Cities and Municipalities (VVSG), Luc Martens
The full list of signatories is available here.
- EU member states
Call for a real common European asylum policy
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