On the evening of 16 November 2022, at the 10th edition of the Integrating Cities Conference in Utrecht, the cities of Antwerp, Pesaro, Vantaa, Warsaw and Zagreb signed the Integrating Cities Charter, joining the 42 cities in this initiative.
By becoming signatories, cities commit to provide equal opportunities for all residents and to embrace and promote the diversity of their populations.
Eurocities – the network of more than 200 major cities in Europe – launched the Charter in 2010. It sets out cities’ commitments to the integration of migrants in their role as policymakers, service providers, employers and buyers of goods and services (see full Charter here).
The signing ceremony was hosted by the Deputy Mayor of Utrecht, Rachel Streefland and by Eurocities Secretary General, André Sobczak.
Every two years, Eurocities produces a monitoring report assessing the progress signatory cities have made in implementing the charter. This year’s edition shows that while responding to immediate challenges and crisis, cities never stop implementing policies for the broader integration of migrant communities.
For instance, more and more cities report having developed a strategic vision of their identity, making the promotion of inclusion, the fight against hate speech and discrimination the backbone of all work done in the city administrations.
In recent years, cities also further increased the cooperation with migrant-led organisations and moved towards a more inclusive form of decision-making by relying on the unique knowledge of migrants to shape their policies. This important topic of co-design with migrant themselves is further explored in Eurocities’ current project UNITES.
The 10th edition of the Integrating Cities Conference is financed under CONNECTION, a European project funded by the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund during which around 15 cities exchanged good practices on migrant integration.
In addition to promoting transnational learning and foster real change on the ground, the partners have produced four toolkits to guide cities willing to develop integration strategies, improve the gender dimension of their integration activities, foster the labour market integration of migrants or set up a one-stop-shop.
Rutger Groot Wassink, Deputy Mayor of Amsterdam: “The city of Amsterdam is a proponent of stronger international cooperation. Cities are at the forefront when it comes to migrant integration and inclusion.”
Giuliana Benedetto, Policy Officer at EU Home Affairs: “A person is not integrated into the state, but into a city. This is extremely important when it comes to integration policies.”
Mila Kangasniemi, Vice Chair of Vantaa’s Multicultural Advisory Board: “We are a city ready to sign the charter, but not just sign it, we also adopted it so well that we are now basing our integration plan on the four commitments of the charter.”
Gordan Bosanac, Zagreb City Assembly: “This charter was approved unanimously by our city assembly. The strong political support that we got for this charter actually gave us the wind to deliver on the topic of integration. This is one of the reasons we joined this charter, because it’s not just a symbolic thing to sign but is followed by concrete actions that cities can do.”
Tomasz Pactwa, Director of Social Affairs, Warsaw: “During the time of crisis, a lot of our fellow Eurocities members sent us messages of support. Our cities, the cities of Europe have passed the exam of solidarity, so it’s just a matter of the national level and the Commission level to realise what is the role of cities in Europe and how many tasks we are taking on during the crisis. So hopefully we will have direct access to funds in future.”
Daniele Vimini, Deputy Mayor of Pesaro: “With cooperation through Eurocities, it’s possible to carry out a real cultural revolution in reception and inclusion. The Integrating Cities Charter reflects the approach of the city of Pesaro, considering migration as an asset, as a reciprocal relationship on the basis of the collective growth of the whole society.”
André Sobczak, Eurocities Secretary General: “When cities grow, it’s because new people arrive in the cities and the cities are able to welcome these people as new citizens. When refugees came from Ukraine, they did not stop just over the border, they went straight to the cities to be welcomed there. It’s really up to the cities to do this integrating, but unfortunately national government doesn’t always recognise that. But here today we all agree that it’s really cities that need to act, and the European Commission is starting to recognise this too.”