INTEGRA project had its Brussels premiere on June 11, 2019! A year and a half after the project launch we were ready to reflect on our experience, to propose policy recommendations for better TCN integration local, national and European policies, to share broadly the creative tools and information materials we have created.
The policy briefing was hosted by the European Committee of the Regions. The project manager Sevdalina Voynova emphasized on the main strength of the project: broad citizen participation and co-creation of integration policies.
Botyo Botev, Sofia Municipal Councilor, shared that “We are proud Sofia is the lead partner of such a strong consortium. We believe that interregional learning and knowledge exchange are the best ways to improve policies.”
Laurent Thieule, Director of Directorate for Legislative Work at CoR, outlined the connection between INTEGRA and the new initiative of CoR’s President, entitled “Cities and Regions of Migration”, as both rely on integration models through city networks. .
Laurent Aujean, Policy Officer at Legal Migration and Integration Unit of DG Home, pointed out as project added value its perspective of the local context and history. Central and Eastern Europe attract different types of migrants – from Ukraine, from the former Soviet countries – that require special measures of integration. He also expressed his appreciation of INTEGRA policy recommendations that go beyond the typical ones regarding access to the labour market.
The just reelected mayor of Rubano (Italy), Sabrina Doni stressed the important role of INTEGRA for a small city with 6,000 inhabitants that has much less resources and access to knowledge networks. “We have made Europe, now we have to make Europeans”, she concluded.
The Prague local councilor Ondřej Mirovský shared that political leadership and will are key for countering nationalism.
Mr Rayeiz Rahman, a migrant from Afghanistan settled in Košice, explained why he got involved in INTEGRA and what it means to people like him to have the chance to participate: “To have your voice heard, to be able to say that foreigners also live here, to influence positively other migrants”.
Other speakers included Štefan Daňo, Head of Strategic Development Department (Košice), Gordana Stojanović, Welfare Department (Osijek), Lenka Czikková, ETP Slovakia (Košice), Marina Kisyova de Geus, RiskMonitor (Sofia), Barbora Chrzová, Policy Officer, Consortium of Migrants Assisting Organizations in the Czech Republic, Svetoslav Nikolov, bTV Radio-Bulgaria, Luboš Kožíšek, Integration Center Prague.
On June 11th, 2019 the Bulgarian Council for Refugees and Migrants, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and the Municipality of Plovdiv organized a national seminar "Funding opportunities for integration and urban development possibilities" on the occasion of the upcoming World Refugee Day on June 20th.
The event served as a forum of dialogue between the diverse stakeholders at national and local level, directly or indirectly engaged in the refugee integration process in Bulgaria.
Additionally, the seminar introduced good practices of partnership between municipalities, non-governmental organizations and the private sector in the context of the refugee integration process.
The director of Sofia Development Association Svetlana Lomeva was a panelist and presented the good practices of Sofia Municipality and Sofia Development Association in integration policies and practices. Mrs. Lomeva showcased INTEGRA - the project that SDA is a lead partner of at present, and promoted to other Bulgarian municipalities the methodologies, tools and resources developed by INTEGRA partners.