The Government Delegation to the EU hosted an event on 8 November to discuss the role of European regions in migration policy. The event, 'Migration and refugee policies from a regional perspective: Rethinking multi-level governance in the Mediterranean', was attended by Eunice Romero, Director General for Migration, Refugees and Antiracism of the Government of Catalonia, as well as various representatives of European and Mediterranean regions, institutions and networks.
The Director General highlighted the measures taken by the Government in this area, which are internationally leading and which position Catalonia as a benchmark in the field of anti-racist public policies to address challenges related to migration. "The Government of Catalonia is committed to building a country and a Europe free of racism and wants to be a driving force for change in order to achieve this", he assured.
Romero explained the Government of Catalonia's Commitment to a Country Free of Racism, a plan of 70 measures for social and institutional transformation in the face of migration. We need to talk about migration in terms of border management, but it is also important to respond to the challenges that arise from the common life of all citizens," said the Director General of Migration, Refugees and Antiracism.
In this sense, the seventy measures included in the document have a very clear objective: to improve the lives of all people with equal rights and opportunities in their daily lives, without any kind of discrimination. Ensuring equal access to rights such as health, housing and work, transforming administrations to ensure exemplary action and working on the remembrance and reparation of systemic racism are the cornerstones of the action plan.
Regions, key actors in migration and refugee policies
David Moya, lecturer in Migration Law at the University of Barcelona, opened the first part of the debate. He explained how in migration policy there is a wide variety of areas in which local and regional authorities can work. "Can we think of a relocation process without the regions? They are in the best position to know what is best for migrants", Moya asserted, stressing the need for coordination in order to take into account the areas closest to citizens in the management of migration.
Sofia Reis, a technician from the European Commission's Directorate-General for Home Affairs, took part in this block, presenting the Work Programme within the framework of the Asylum, Migration and Integration Funds 2023-2025 and the new developments in relation to regional and local actors. The European Committee of the Regions was also present, with Antje Grotheer, who stressed the need for local and regional institutions to have the appropriate means to receive migrants while ensuring human rights. Grotheer also stressed the importance of Catalonia being "a member of the Cities and Regions for the Integration of Migrants network of the Committee of the Regions, and one of the most active players when it comes to inclusion", he said.
From the Oriental Region, in Morocco, its vice-president, Salah El Aaboudi, highlighted the collaboration with the Generalitat de Catalunya on the Shababuna project in his region, which, he explains, "is aimed at young people in schools and institutes. We have provided training for teachers and guidance counsellors, focusing on the risks of irregular migration".
Examples of best practices by European actors
On behalf of the Government of Catalonia, Màriam Lufti, a technician from the Directorate-General for EU Affairs, also explained the Shababuna project, led by the Department of External Action and the European Union and applied in countries such as Morocco, in a second block moderated by Paola Álvarez, a technician from the United Nations International Organization for Migration.
Specifically, Lufti explained that "the aim is to provide information and tools to help young people to make informed decisions about their future. It also focuses on raising awareness of the risks of irregular migration and promoting legal migration channels and career opportunities in the region. The project includes studies, awareness-raising campaigns, the development of a mobile application and capacity-building activities for the relevant authorities". Thus, the aim is to improve cooperation between European and Moroccan authorities and contribute to the efficient management of migratory flows, while placing the emphasis on solidarity and cooperation.
On the other hand, Marzio Barbieri presented the "Three-year Plan for the Integration of Foreign Citizens" of the Emilia-Romagna region. A project that seeks to integrate migrants by tackling social aspects, covering five broad areas and seven specific themes and focusing on gender equality and empowerment.
The Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions also participated in this second block. Claire Street, project technician, referred to the work that the network, of which the Government of Catalonia forms part, is developing in relation to migration policies. "We are focusing on the internal dimension: the arrival, integration and social inclusion of migrants. But we are also focusing on the external dimension, on how the regions are tackling the inequalities that lead people to migrate", said Street.
Ignasi Centelles, the Government's delegate to the EU, was in charge of opening the event, and highlighted the fact that Catalonia has always been a welcoming land, focusing on inclusion in terms of migration policies. "We are working to ensure equal treatment, dignity and security for migrants, and to ensure the right to asylum for all refugees in Catalonia", he explained.