Working Together for Local Integration of Migrants and Refugees in Barcelona

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In Barcelona, the rate of foreign residents has quintupled since 2000, and in 2017, 23% of the population was foreign-born. From the late 1990s until today, the municipality has followed an intercultural strategy to implement inclusive measures for local migrant integration. These measures have been recently reinforced to welcome asylum seekers who tripled between 2015 and 2017. For this group, the municipality set up targeted housing and reception policies that complement the national reception system. Migrants have access to municipal measures in key sectors such as housing, minimum living allowances and labour market integration - by the employment service Barcelona Activa - on the same basis as the other residents. Further, Barcelona has developed sensitization initiatives to curb discrimination and improve service delivery in the most disadvantaged neighbourhoods. The municipality has developed local coordination mechanisms with migrant associations and non-governmental organisations that aim to share information, avoid duplication and maximise the access to services such as language classes for migrants. Yet, migrants are particularly affected by socio-economic inequalities particularly following the economic crisis. This report sheds light on how the municipality and non-state partners work together with the other levels of government for sustainable migrant and refugee integration.


Executive summary

Between 2000 and 2009, the city of Barcelona experienced a rapid increase of international migration. During this process, which was not unique to Barcelona and occurred more broadly in the rest of Spain, Barcelona became a migration hub in the country. The rate of foreign residents in the city has quintupled since 2000. While foreign residents represented 3.5% of Barcelona’s population in 2000, they reached 18.1% in 2009. In 2017, 17.5% of the population was foreign, 23% foreign-born and around 30% had a foreign background (AB, 2012; 2016b). While initially, foreign residents were mostly from Latin America, there has been an increase of Asian and European residents in the city. The increase in foreign-born over foreign population is also due to the ease with which Latin American nationals can obtain Spanish nationality (i.e. after 2 years of residency in the country).


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