This morning, the Catalan Vice President and Minister for Social Welfare and Family, Neus Munté, attended the Sectorial Conference on Immigration to articulate the conclusions reached during yesterday’s meeting between the Government of Catalonia, social entities and other institutions concerning a Catalan response to the refugee crisis. The conference, held in Madrid, was attended by representatives of Spain’s autonomous communities and was hosted by the central government’s Employment and Social Security ministry.
During the conference Vice President Munté, who was accompanied by the Government’s Immigration Director, Xavier Bosch, demanded the State government to host as many refugees seeking asylum as the European Union allocates to Spain, “without cutbacks”, she insisted. Munté also highlighted Catalonia’s willingness to “host all persons the EU assigns, because we want to uphold the principles and values of Europe”.
The Vice President noted that the Government was hoping to discern from the central Administration “the definite number of people to be hosted by the State, or at least an approximate figure”. “We cannot lose any more time”, continued Munté, “we have an immediate duty of solidarity. The situation is of the utmost urgency and in order to start acting in Catalonia we need as much information and coordination as possible, as well as the transfer of European resources from the Spanish state to enable and strengthen our mechanisms” and host the refugees in question. The State receives an estimated 500 million euros in European funds to deal with immigration and, according to the Vice President, “Catalonia has repeatedly called for more involvement in the management of these funds”. It has also demanded that the funds for underage migrants be re-established, “we are talking about people, this is more important than figures or resources, but these are necessary in order to care for these people”, stressed the Catalan Vice President.
Additionally, Munté called for more administrative flexibility to speed legal procedure in granting asylum because, as social entities and advocacy associations have warned, there have been “delays and difficulties suffered by these people when trying to obtain asylum seeker status”. In this regard, Munté asked the State for “political commitment and a greater allocation of technical and human resources to ease the extensive paperwork”.
Considering the importance of the content in today’s meeting, the Vice President expressed disappointment with regards to its outcome: “they have not specified anything, nor have they answered any of our questions”, denounced Munté. “We are willing to cooperate, but cooperation bust be done both ways and it is very important that we be specific in terms of our commitments”, she added. According to the Minister for Social Welfare and Family, to start working in all the possible capacities “it is essential that we know the number of people who will arrive in Catalonia as well as the criteria which will be used when allocating resources”.