„The right to the city for all: European municipalities daring local citizenship“, Villeurbanne.
The conference in Villeurbanne happened in the context of the Biennale de l’Hospitalité of the Lyon metropolitan area. Villeurbanne has a history of reception and participation policies. The main focus of the conference was to share the decision-making and implementation processes around city ID cards being developed by some municipalities in Europe. Zurich, Utrecht and Berlin presented their own projects, all in different stages, and were able to have an inspiring discussion with our Villeurbanne, regarding the benefits of such an initiative to the neighbours of our cities who often face marginalization and no access to basic rights. We had the chance to visit some of the projects like Le Château and l’Archipel/La Cantina together with the city representatives as a showcase of best practices to inspire their diffusion and implementation elsewhere.
In April in Zagreb, the coordination group of IASH started drafting an updated statement following up on the founding document signed in Palermo two years before. The mayor of Villeurbanne was joined by city representatives of Lyon and other European cities, as well as the metropolitan area of Lyon and the French national network ANVITA representing over 80 municipalities in France to sign it’s second declaration with four main demands:
1. right to asylum and no transit zones at external borders
2. strengthening solidarity between EU member states
3. direct EU funding for host communities
4. legal migration routes for a pragmatic immigration policy
The process of gathering support for the declaration continues until early 2024, when it will be handed over to the relevant EU actors as means of continuing the dialogue we have started before the Pact’s final approval with the underlying intention of informing the pre-campaign of the upcoming EU elections.
Solidarity cities reshaping migration in Europe, Brussels.
Berlin Governance Platform (BGP) and Moving Cities (MC) are two of the actors that make out our consortium. The lobby event in Brussels was carried out as a collaboration between BGP in the framework of the Cities4Refugees project and MC as an independently funded project of the organization United4Rescue. The event aimed at putting forward a lobby opportunity in Brussels, bringing municipal representatives from Munich, Berlin, Utrecht, Amsterdam, Ghent, Liège, Cascais, Villeurbanne, Wroklaw and Zagreb to voice their perspective and concerns around the Pact of Migration and Asylum. The key note presentation held by our colleague Federico Alagna „Towards the 2024 European elections“ set the tone for a two day event with several panel discussions with practitioners, researchers city officials and EU actors, as well as workshops led by city representatives and ourselves.
10 cities from 7 different EU countries had the opportunity to exchange and articulate a common strategy to face the consequences of the Pact, were it to be passed as it was in October 2023, during the concomitant trialogs between the EU Parliament, Commission and Council. Given the current unfavorable context, our consortium’s assessment is that the event was successful, inasmuch IASH and the articulation around it with non-IASH cities showed that local governments can speak with one voice and become louder in their efforts to be heard by (supra)national authorities. Besides, we are certain that the local perspectives voiced in the form of a cohesive alliance had a positive effect on the positions of certain EU actors that attended the discussions and closed door conversations.
We were also joined by other civil society organizations and researchers in the migration domain for part of the program and the parallel event „Spaces Betweeen Us“ (see program and participants below). An opportunity for us to join efforts in difficult times and envision common strategies to go forward, hand in hand with knowledge production and social action in the different local realities.
Fondazione Rizoma Studio’s – C4R online meeting
Rizoma Studio is one of the organizations that make out our consortium. As such, it applied alongside Berlin Governance Platform and four municipalities (Zagreb, Villeurbanne, Berlin and Barcelona) for the EU subvention that made it possible. The goals established by our organizations together with the participant cities for this project are twofold: 1) exchange best practices and ways to sustain inclusive participation in our cities and 2) promote and project IASH as a political actor.
Participants totaled 145 from a wide variety of countries. The exchanges brought to the fore the cooperation between CSOs and municipal institutions in the migration (reception) field. Interesting inputs pointed at the necessity of developing strategies to guarantee the sustainability of this cooperation and its resilience to political shifts. Networking locally, nationally and transnationally is a powerful tool and investing time in the maintenance and functionality of these networks is of utmost importance.
This interactive event counted on various inputs (see program and speakers), adding value to the next steps of the project.
Cities for Refugees (C4R) kick-off meeting, Zagreb.
From April 19th to 21st we gathered in Zagreb for the kick-off meeting of the #Cities4Refugees project. During 2023/2024 we’ll be exchanging on practices of local governments and civil society organizations, articulating a better horizon for the reception and protection of refugees and migrants from the local perspective, while aiming at projecting IASH as a political actor and our collaboration as a dual network of civil society and institutional actors, namely city governments.
City representatives of our host Zagreb, Villeurbanne, Berlin, and Munich as an IASH guest shared interesting presentations on the achievements, current situation and challenges in their municipalities as well as their vision for the future, followed by an input from Open Arms on the reality at sea and causes of forced migration. The discussion was enriched by a panel with one organization of our consortium Solidarity City Zagreb, and by the Center for Peace Studies Zagreb on the situation on the ground in Croatia from the perspective of civil society organizations. A reflection on the transnational relations between people on the move and CSOs from Croatia, Bosnia-Hezergovina and Serbia as a reality check and source of inspiration for the improvement of inter-municipal cooperation in the region. The meeting was closed with a visit to the amazing Women-to-Women project, a source of community building for many people on the move in the Croatian capital.
Alina Lyapina shared current EU migration policies prospects fueling a discussion with Gordan Bosanac, Matthieu Garabedian, Maria Prsa, Janne Grote, Lisa Lorbeer, Francisco Gentico, Tiago da Cruz and our kind host partners Jana Radić and Andrija Petrović and project leaders Claudia Dombrowsky and Ines Friedrich. We also analyzed aspects of the recently approved position of the European Parliament to engage in talks with the Member States and in the trialogue with the Council and the Commission.
IASH working meeting
Alliance Migrations Conference in Lisbon
We were invited to the conference with the purpose of joining the other participants (hyperlinked) and, apart from networking, contributing to the individual workshops aiming at synergies for future action. IASH was also represented by Berlin’s administration. The collaboration between OCU (Organisation pour une Citoyenneté Universelle) and ANVITA constitute what they decided to call Alliance Migrations, with different actors from all over the world working on humane migration principles and reception systems. This was their second conference, where we had the opportunity to exchange with local governments representatives from Utrecht, Liège, Lyon, Strasbourg, Grenoble and Rouen, as well as with UCLG representatives and other civil society organizations.
First CERV “Cities4Refugees” subvention meeting
In this meeting the initial plan was presented to the participants. A kick-off meeting is planned in Zagreb in April 2023, an online meeting should be held in June and another in-person meeting should be held in Villeurbanne in November. These events and further programming for next year will be discussed in the next opportunity.
Participants: Barcelona, Berlin (took over the leadership from Potsdam), Villeurbanne, Zagreb, Berlin-Brandenburg Auslandsgesellschaft (BBAG) and two organizations of our consortium Berlin Governance Platform and Rizoma Studio + strategic partners and guest municipal governments.
IASH working meeting
Internal FS2C meeting – Barcelona
Organizations represented in the meeting: Europe Must Act, Europe Must Act Italy, Seebrücke Switzerland, Mediterranea Saving Humans, Inter Alia, Berlin Governance Platform, AlarmPhone.
After the working meeting with IASH municipal governments and potentially new ones in September, it was time for us to regather in our annual meeting, this time in the catalan capital, Barcelona. This was possible thanks to the Rethink grant we received from FundAction.
The main goal behind our strategy for 2023 is to continue our contributions to the development of IASH. By raising their voice jointly against the further development of the migration policies based on deterrence, violence and death, IASH’s can become a rlevant political actor at EU level. FS2C will remain at the negotiating tables to guarantee the political process is informed by expertise from civil society represented by each organization of our consortium. It is still our firm belief that municipal governments, as state actors, have enough (democratic) leverage and know-how to negotiate with their national governments and the relevant EU institutions as mature actors in migration governance.
We took the opportunity to network with Spanish/Catalan CSOs, having had the chance to exchange with activists from Coordinadora Obrim Fronteres, Emergencia Frontera Sur – Barcelona, Stop Mare Mortum and Solidary Wheels (hyperlink all of them).
Mediterranea Saving Humans Festival – Naples
From September 1 to 4th 2022, the first Mediterranea Saving Humans Festival was held in Naples at the famous castle of the Maschio Angioino. Debates, workshops and concerts were crowned with a march to Piazza del Plesbiscito and a series of rallies from fellow activists!
We were invited to participate in one of the debates “Us and the Wars: hospitality, peace and our cities” with the mayor of Bologna Matteo Lepore among other relevant practitioners and activists.
IASH (International Alliance of Safe Harbours) meeting
On September 21st, over twenty IASH municipalities gathered online to discuss the goals and principles they have vowed to defend and pursue with the statement signed in Palermo in June 2021 and how to translate them into concrete steps and a common political strategy. Apart from the municipalities that were already signatories of the statement, we invited some new, possibly strategic ones. A campaign proposal for the next two years was presented by FS2C and a range of steps we would like to take in order to operationalize the goals and principles of the statement were further articulated.
The 3-hour meeting was very productive and one of the main questions raised by the city representatives is that IASH should have a steering board or a coordination group of municipalities to make the alliance operationally sustainable. Steps in this direction were sought to be taken. Subjects city representatives expressed interest in that should shape the agenda of the next meetings:
- Feedback of the political level from the respective municipal governments to the paper and meeting results
- Network cooperation, in particular next steps regarding a campaign
- Exchange knowledge, experiences, challenges, opportunities
- Defining, setting up different working groups on single topics such as campaign, EU-negotiations, housing etc.
- National networks and advocacy with national governments
- Coordination with European city networks, cooperation and synergies with existing alliances and initiatives
- Situation regarding war in Ukraine, consider the differentiation being made between refugees from the Ukraine and other countries
- Housing – social participation and partnerships (national advocacy efforts)
Summit of the Peoples – Brussels
The goals of the summit, organized jointly with the ‘March to Brussels’ initiative, were to allow meetings and exchanges between organizations and movements committed to the rights of migrants. Benefitting from a collective space of reflection on the strengthening of international mobilization networks, we worked on alternatives and tools to fight against the violence of current migration policies. FS2C was invited by CRID to make a contribution in one of the plenaries and by joining the split-up groups articulating future visions. Our exchanges with members from the Organization for Universal Citizenship (OCU in French) were fruitful and led to an invitation to participate in the Alliance Migrations conference in January 2023, in order to continue exploring our synergies and aligning our strategies.
Approval of the CERV EU grant „Cities4Refugees“ by the EU Commission
At the beginning of 2022 two organizations of the consortium (Berlin Governance Platform and Rizoma Studio) applied to the CERV call along with 4 municipal governments, in order to develop a 2-year program, a build-up campaign through in-person and online conferences and specific advocacy meetings. The further development of IASH and our collaboration will benefit greatly from such activities. The funding was granted to the Cities4Refugees project and the expected kick-off meeting will be held in Zagreb by its city council in April 2023.
Applicants: Berlin, Zagreb, Villeurbanne and Barcelona municipal governments, Berlin-Brandenburg Auslandsgesellschaft (BBAG), Berlin Governance Platform and Studio Rizoma.
Transborder Summer Camp
We were invited to participate in two workshops and continue articulating the synergies that brought our organizations together to form a consortium. ‘From the desert through the sea to the cities’ was the name of the first workshop aiming at analyzing more precisely the reality of the corridors of solidarity, while putting our work into a broader perspective. Another workshop called ‘Transnational networking’ aimed at discussing our approaches and challenges in order to continue building up on these efforts. Sea rescue has been surpassed by a reality that goes beyond the Mediterranean. Though our consortium’s name refers to the latter, what we do has developed into a broad political strategy inspired by the solidarity along the ever-shifting routes. Solidarity takes many forms and engages a wide variety of people and organizations across Europe, Africa and the Middle East. One thing that remains constant is the role towns and cities play in all these paths. Our work is informed by the migrant realities on the ground and the TSC is a great opportunity for us to touch base and continue the struggle with our institutional partners.
The Good Lobby – Bilbao
In July 2022 we were invited as guest speakers to the Good Lobby Summer Academy which took place in Bilbao between July 18-21. Thanks to the financial support provided by the Transnational Political Contention in Europe (TraPoCo) network, two members of the Consortium were able to attend the Summer Academy. The Good Lobby Academy takes place every year to gather leading thinkers, practitioners and academics working on new forms and policies of influence, mobilization and lobbying.
One representative of the Consortium intervened during the panel ‘Opportunities and limits of informal coalitions’ and talked about the importance of informal networks when it comes to lobbying and advocating for a change in European migration policies. From Sea to the City is a good example of how local, national and international actors coming from civil society as well as from the NGOs or institutional realms can get together and create networks and collaborations.
Beyond Cities of Refuge Closing Conference – Middelburg
A four year research project has come to an end. Researchers who have dedicated their work to the description and questioning of the reception and asylum systems dealt with by municipal governments gathered in the Dutch town of Middelburg to elucidate their last articles and discuss current perspectives regarding so-called cities of refuge. Their findings constitute a great source of empirical evidence that allows for the theorization around the state sovereignty concept and alternative governance systems. This conference was dedicated to the perspective and shortcomings of a movement that continues despite the stalemate imposed by national states onto their best possible collaboration partners: municipal governments.
For more information, please visit: https://citiesofrefuge.eu/news
Internal FS2C meeting – Milan
Our consortium is composed of several civil society organizations active in different territories and working on a variety of issues around migration and refuge. We met in Milan to set out our strategic plan according to the conference’s results and discuss the project’s continuation. At this meeting we have come to the decision to come together annually as a way to touch base with an intensive program, where our personal bonds would continue to develop.