Reforming the Common European Asylum System
State of play of the New Pact on Migration and Asylum

The New Pact on Migration and Asylum was proposed by the Commission in September 2020. Two years from that date, where do we stand with European migration policy? This article takes stock of the advancements made by the European Institutions in negotiating a reform of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) through the New Pact on Migration and Asylum.

Read the full article on our online magazine, the New European.


Learning From Best Practices – UNITES Training Event

Since the beginning of 2022, UNITEE is part of the EU-funded UNITES project – “UrbaN InTEgration Strategies through co-design”. Led by Eurocities in cooperation with UNITEE, MigrationWork, and New Women Connectors, UNITES trains the eight European cities participating in the project to co-design integration policies with other local stakeholders and migrants.

Based on existing best practices of co-design strategies used by other cities worldwide, UNITES is developing training material which will be tested in the participating cities Athens, Bologna, Düsseldorf, Grenoble, Oulu, Prague, Zagreb, and Zaragoza. As UNITES partners, these cities will receive outreach grants, allowing them to implement some of the co-design best practices identified throughout the project. The training materials will be published at the end of the three-year project, allowing further cities to benefit from the outcomes and insights.

Kicking off at the beginning of 2022, UNITES has already identified six cities to inspire the UNITES partners with their approaches to co-design and the participation of migrants and refugees in integration policies: São Paulo, Nuremberg, Nantes, Liverpool, Fuenlabrada, and Mörsil.

The best practices of these six cities in co-design of integration policies were shared with the 8 UNITES cities for a training event in September 2022.

The importance of co-design

The event included an insightful introduction to co-design through which migrants and their experience are valued as experts in the policy-making process. To this end, co-design can break down the traditional, hierarchical approach to policy-making: instead of the local authorities making policies for migrants,  the process is a collaboration between the two, allowing for better, more effective outcomes. Such a participatory approach is still not very common in the area of integration, despite considerable gains that were illustrated and discussed during the training.

Co-designing integration policies can be a complex but rewarding task. Newcomer migrants and refugees are usually not citizens in their country of residence, barring them from political participation such as voting. Undocumented migrants are even harder to account for and include in co-design processes.

Such exclusions need to be compensated for by creating accessible and safe spaces with inclusive communication that can make all people feel welcome and heard.

This presents another challenge: reaching a diverse group and being inclusive to all. Migrants and refugees come from different cultural backgrounds, they all have different stories and daily challenges. Cities and municipalities need good data about their migrant and refugee populations to understand how to be more inclusive and how to accommodate everyone. However, as some migrants are not present in the data the question arises how they can be accounted for in the policy-making process and encouraged to voice their opinions.

When cities recognise that they are limited in their approach to inclusion and participation of newcomers, they need to be prepared to make changes. They might set up consultative bodies or integration councils, but these solutions have their limitations: true representation beyond tokenism and consultation, and transparency being key challenges.

Lastly, transitioning to inclusive decision-making and co-design strategies takes time and resources in the short run.

Despite these challenges, results show that co-designing integration policies is worth the time and effort. Co-design can bring intersectional perspectives to new policies, leading to innovation, creativity, and attention to previously unheard voices and views. Diversity and inclusion in decision-making can lead to the empowerment of marginalized communities, who feel a sense of ownership towards the new policies. All of these practices are essential when striving for good governance.

Best practices from all over the world

Some best practices and success stories show the significant benefits of co-design approaches when it comes to integration. São Paulo, Nuremberg, Nantes, Liverpool, Fuenlabrada, and Mörsil presented their strategies and programs at the UNITES training event in  September 2022. The city of Nuremberg showcased its Integration Council and the different local government bodies that all collaborate on integration.

The Spanish town of Fuenlabrada, located on the outskirts of Madrid, shared insights into its program called “Table for Coexistence”, which is both a platform for local associations, and a stakeholder in local cultural diversity management, aiming at interculturality in Fuenlabrada.

Mörsil, located in the Swedish municipality of Åre, is home to fewer than 1000 residents. After a wave of local discontent and conflicts surrounding the growing number of migrants and refugees in Morsil, the municipality embarked on a long and detailed consultation with local stakeholders, involving people of all backgrounds and providing any additional support that was needed to encourage otherwise unheard members of society to participate. By making all people feel comfortable with sharing their thoughts and insights, Mörsil was put under the looking glass, and the municipality could gain a deeper understanding of the opposing grievances. After this, the municipality launched a program toward reconciliation and unity in Mörsil, which is still running today.

What comes next?

The UNITES project will move forward in  2023 and 2024 with the 8 UNITES cities developing their integration co-design strategies, and learning from each other through a series of field visits. These experiences will be used in the following step, when a publicly available online training material will be developed – serving cities all across Europe.

Read more about the UNITES project here.

UNITEE Roundtable: “Building bridges: the role of New European entrepreneurs in the European Neighborhood Policy”

On Wednesday 27th September, UNITEE – The New European Business Confederation hosted the high-level roundtable Building bridges: the role of New European Entrepreneurs in the European Neighborhood policy. The roundtable was organised as part of the constant work of UNITEE to contribute to establish a positive narrative of migration. In this regard the topic chosen, at the crossroads between economy, migration and development, is of a particular interest in the framework of the currently discussed European Economic Diplomacy Strategy, together with its wider efforts to stabilize its neighborhood.

The event, set in the intimate setting of UNITEE’s office in Place du Luxembourg 2, 1050 Ixelles, took place from 12.30 to 14.30. It was an opportunity for policy makers, practitioners and experts to debate on the important role migrant entrepreneurs can have in contributing to the political strategies of the EU in the relations with its neighborhood, if given the chance. The speakers were called to reflect on questions such as: Is there really a positive effect of New European entrepreneurs on their country of origin? How could the European Neighbourhood Policy take advantage from the engagement of New European entrepreneurs in order to pursue its long-term objectives of stabilisation and economic growth?

The roundtable started with an opening remark by MEP Brando Benifei, from the S&D group. Mr Benifei drew on his experience as Rapporteur for the labour market integration of refugees to remark the important contributions New European entrepreneurs give to the European economy and society; he pointed out that in some countries, such as his native Italy, from 2011 to 2015 migrants have been disproportionately creating jobs and companies. For this reason, Mr Benifei argued that this contribution needs to be acknowledged and fostered by national and European institutions: he called for unnecessary burdens to be scrapped, together with suggesting the possibility of using the Blue Card directive to help entrepreneurs from abroad to launch their business in the EU.

After Mr Benifei’s introduction, the roundtable started with an intervention by Christophe Yvetot, the Director of UNIDO‘s Brussels Office. Mr Yvetot presented the role of his organisation in focussing on industrial development, with the objective of bringing about sustainable development, circular economy, and renewable energies in developing countries. He pointed out that the strategy behind these actions is connected to migration, since it aims to stabilise people in their countries of origin: indeed, data showed that industrial development had an unparalleled role in reducing poverty. In this, he mde a specific reference to the European Neighborhood Policy (ENP), showing how UNIDO is collaborating with the EU to develop the Euro-Med industrial cooperation. Finally, he explained the two parts of UNIDO’s approach to migration: first, to provide opportunities; and secondly, to bring about circular migration.

After Mr Yvetot, it was the turn of Geertrui Lanneau, Senior Senior Regional Specialist on Labour Mobility and Human Development for the IOM Regional Office for the EU to present her remarks. Ms Lanneau began her remarks by noting the great entrepreneurial drive of migrants: 25% of all entrepreneurs in the UK, for instance, have a migrant background. This is part of a wider set of contributions diasporas have, both in Europe and in their countries of origin: first of all, they bring development and wealth to their countries of origin, through remittances. Secondly, they also contribute socially: in Europe, they create jobs; in their countries of origin, they bring skills and know-how. Nevertheless, Mrs Lanneau noted that this second contribution is somewhat limited by the fact that even many New European entrepreneurs find it hard to invest into their countries of origin, due to corruption and red tape. Finally, she mentioned the relevant role female entrepreneurship can play, and the need to support it through projects such as IOM’s MIDA program.

The next speaker was Giacomo Mattinò, Head of Unit Enterprise Network and Internationalisation of SMEs, DG GROW, at the European Commission. Mr Mattinò focussed his intervention on the tools DG GROW provides for the internationalisation of SMEs and, in general, to create an environment conducive to entrepreneurship in the EU. In general, the European Commission does not distinguish among entrepreneurs: all can apply. First of all, he referred to the Enterprise Europe Network, that aims at supporting SMEs in their ventures abroad: this is made even more necessary by the fact that 90% of European SMEs export beyond their borders.  Another tool to foster entrepreneurship is the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs, that provides the possibility for aspiring entrepreneurs to spend some time abroad in order to learn a business.

Finally, the roundtable was closed by Adem Kumcu, President of UNITEE. In his remarks, Mr Kumcu drew on his personal experience to provide an overview of the activities, and challenges, of organising migrant entrepreneurs and advocating for them at the European level.  He noted that the correct engagement of migrant entrepreneurs is strategic for the EU: only by easily integrating and making the best use out of the diversity of New Europeans, will Europe be able to meet today’s challenges, ranging from an aging society to an increasingly competitive economy. Dr Kumcu also presented some initiatives undertaken in the past by UNITEE with the aim of favouring this engagement, such as its cooperation with the Union pour la Méditerranée and its partnership with UEAPME.

In general, the event showed the many different aspects in which New European entrepreneurs have an important, and currently undervalued, role to play in the relationship of the EU with its wider neighborhood. In the current situation where a successful and long-term integration strategy is more and more important, acknowledging the opportunities migrant entrepreneurs hold is a first step for a more sustainable future for Europe.


Programme of the event

When: 12.30 – 14.30

Where: Place du Luxembourg 2, 1050 Ixelles

12.30-12:50: Welcoming of participants and light lunch

12:50-13:00: Opening Remarks by Brando Benifei MEP (S&D, Italy)

13:00-14:10: Roundtable with the following speakers:

  • Christophe Yvetot, Head of UNIDO’s Office to the European Union
  • Giacomo Mattinò, Head of Unit Enterprise Network and Internationalisation of SMEs, DG GROW, European Commission
  • Geertrui Lanneau, Senior Regional Specialist on Labour Mobility and Human Development for the IOM Regional Office for the EU, Norway and Switzerland.
  • Dr. Adem Kumcu, President of UNITEE

Moderated by Giovanni Collot, Editor of The New European magazine

14:10-14:30: Q&A with the audience


More information on the roundtable can be found on Twitter, under #buildingbridges.