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.




The increase of international migration in Europe has enhanced public interest about how governments promote the integration of newcomers into host societies. While Spain has not been one of the countries receiving the highest number of newcomers during the most recent spike in arrivals to Europe, the country, and notably the city of Barcelona, experienced for the last fifteen years a sharp increase in migrant arrivals, which required a rapid adaptation from the different levels of government. The objective of this case-study is to provide an analysis of migrant integration and related multilevel governance mechanisms in Barcelona. Integration takes time and the implementation of appropriate measures, while success will benefit both migrants and the host society. The implementation of appropriate policies requires coordination among different levels of government and the wide array of actors involved.


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