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Working Together for Local Integration of Migrants and Refugees in Vienna

image of Working Together for Local Integration of Migrants and Refugees in Vienna

Fast population growth in the city of Vienna is largely related to international migration.  Long-standing migrant communities represent half of Vienna’s population. In 2016, 50% of the inhabitants had migrant backgrounds, and since 2015, the number of refugees and asylum seekers in the city has increased. Since 1971, the city has developed dedicated administrative structures and local policies for migrants. A dedicated municipal unit (MA17) oversees how departments achieve migration-sensitive standards in their respective policy fields and produces the yearly Vienna Integration and Diversity monitoring report. A good practice is “Start Wien”,  a comprehensive coaching and information programme addressing newcomers (including asylum seekers) for the first two years after arrival. After that, foreign residents benefit from non-targeted measures, for instance from a programme fighting labour market exclusion of low-skilled groups. Vienna has avoided high segregation due to its large and well spread social housing. However migrants can only access it after five years of residency in the city, before which they rely on private rental market. Vienna establishes close contacts with migrant associations and NGOs at the district level and engages public consultations when formulating integration concepts. 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.

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Block 1. Multi-level governance: Institutional and financial settings

In the federal republic of Austria, tasks are in general divided between the federal level, its federal provincesThe term of “federal provinces” is used here as a generic term to refer to the constituent regions of a federation. They have specific names depending on the federation: states or provinces in Austria (Bundesländer) (OECD, 2017). The Austrian state is composed of nine federal provinces that that have their own legislative bodies, executive organs and financial management. Certain legislative matters are reserved for the provinces (Republic of Austria, n.d.). and local governments. The city of Vienna holds a double function within the Austrian constitutional and administrative framework. It is a city with its own statute and at the same time a federal province. The head of the Vienna City Hall, in his capacity as mayor, heads the city government and is, in addition, the utmost representative of the federal province with provincial governments being decisive stakeholders in the field of migrant integration. In particular, they are responsible for pre-primary and primary education, youth policies, urban and regional planning, and housing (OECD questionnaire, 2017).

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