The Catalan Foreign Affairs and EU Secretary called on European Institutions to place the role of regions and cities at the center of the refugee crisis response strategy and ensure proper funding to regions and cities to implement it effectively.
On Wednesday, Roger Albinyana took part in a seminar at the European Parliament organized by the Conference of peripheral and maritime regions of Europe (CRPM) to focus on the role regions and cities should play in the refugee crisis. The event was attended by several MEPs, the President of the Committee of Regional Affairs of the European Parliament, Iskra Mihaylova, the director general for Strategy & General Affairs of the European Commission, Marta Cygan, and the presidents of Calabria and Sicily, as well as other representatives from the Nederland, Languedoc-Roussillon, the Aegean Region, and the cities of Vienna and Maroussi.
During his speech, Secretary Albinyana presented the measures and actions taken by the Catalan Government for the management of migration and the current refugee crisis. Albinyana noted the creation of a Working Group Committee by Catalan institutions to facilitate the reception and care of the refugees arriving in Catalonia. Albinyana highlighted the “multilevel governance” and “inclusive nature” of this new Committee, involving various Ministries, the Barcelona Town Hall, representatives from the two main Municipality Associations and the four Provincial Councils of Catalonia, as well as other NGOs and civil society associations.
“For the Government of Catalonia, inclusiveness, cooperation and coordination of all actors involved play a vital role in the design of an efficient and effective public policy response”, Albinyana stressed in the European Parliament. However, the Secretary added that “there has been an important missing link in the chain: cooperation on integration issues with the Spanish government has not been working since the central government has prevented any kind of cooperation at regional level to address the immigration phenomenon”.
“Solidarity towards these individuals is needed, but it is also needed among Member States, their Regions and their Municipalities" and in this sense, " Catalonia is ready for it”, he affirmed. Furthermore, the Secretary added that “the Catalan Government has been pressing the Spanish government to accept as many refugees as possible, and we have offered to welcome a third of the total number arriving to the State”.
Concerning a common EU Strategy, Secretary Albinyana called on European institutions “to put the role of regions and cities at the center of the design of its Strategy to respond to the refugee crisis and make sure that the regions and cities receive the proper funding to implement it”. “If we must build a common, clear and effective European response to the refugee crisis, regions and municipalities cannot be left behind”, he added. In addition to this, the Secretary also made reference to rising right-wing political parties and called on European countries to be pro-active to ensure “fear does no benefit these far right movements”. “There is no room for fear”, concluded the Secretary.