On 5 April I had the pleasure to welcome in Brussels, together with Commissioner Avramopoulos, the Mayors and Vice-Mayors of Amsterdam, Athens, Barcelona, Berlin, Ghent, Leipzig and Paris, as well as some Non-Governmental Organisations for a first roundtable on how to strengthen the integration of migrants in cities.
It is well-known that migration is largely an urban reality. Every day, cities are confronted with concrete challenges involving migration. Whether it is housing, education, employment, cities are at the forefront of the EU response to these challenges.
Cohesion Policy is ready to support urban areas in promoting integration, by financing projects in social and education infrastructure, housing, childcare, health, but also business start-ups, languages courses or professional training.
Significant funding is already available: over 2014-2020, half of the European Regional Development Fund envelope will be invested in urban areas, with, for the first time in the history of Cohesion Policy, the direct involvement of a number of cities in the design and management of financial resources.
Indeed under article 7 of the 2014-2020 ERDF Regulation, the 28 EU Member States should allocate at least 5% of their ERDF envelope to sustainable urban development projects that are directly selected by urban authorities. This concerns over 500 urban areas throughout the EU.
As a matter of fact, we now see that the 5% will be met or exceeded in all EU Member States. The average per country is actually more than 8%, that is to say that more than €15 billion overall. Romania, Cyprus and Bulgaria allocate even more, with €2.8 billion in the case of Romania.
Now, from these more than €15 billion, close to 1 in 5 euros (17.5%) will be spent on social inclusion and fight against poverty. Here there is scope for investments in deprived urban neighbourhoods, health and social services, social enterprises and community-led local developments, which contribute to the integration of migrants.
We can help these people, these children, find their place in society and give them a future in Europe, and we already co-funded many social inclusion projects benefiting migrants, like the 2 Seas SucceS project between France, Belgium and the UK, the MigrAlp project in Austria and Italy or the Robinsbalje centre in Germany.
We are at the beginning of a long journey, and integration will increasingly become key in managing migration; we will make sure to fully support cities and local authorities in their efforts to integrate migrants, in line with our core European values.