At present, there are roughly 22 million non-nationals living in the member states of the European Union. According to Eurostat, a total of 4.5 million people migrated to the EU during 2018, being half of them from non-EU countries – thus Third-Country Nationals (TCNs). This particular group often faces legal and socioeconomic barriers in the integration process in terms of employment, education, access to the mainstream economy and social inclusion. Eurostat’s Migrant integration statistics on labour market show that, in 2017, the EU unemployment rate for migrants born outside the EU was 6.4% higher than the rate for native-born population. At the same time, statistics on housing show that across the EU-28, non-EU citizens are more likely to live in an overcrowded household than nationals.

The capacity to effectively include migrants in the society and to bring out their capacity to contribute to the EU social and economic growth is of paramount importance. Cities, that are magnets for migrant flows, are the places where the need to afford migrant inclusion is a chance not to be missed and as a disruptive game changer for the entire society.

Local authorities are responsible for a wide range of services and activities and they play an important role in shaping the interaction between migrants and the receiving society. Cities are thus best positioned to achieve integration objectives and their contribution is strongly considered at the EU and national-level. Yet, only 54% of the cities have a specific strategy covering all sectors involved in migrant integration according to OECD.

The EPI project is in line with these findings, as it specifically targets cities in order to develop an Integration Strategy, founded on current needs and real priorities of the cities (identified with an Internal Intercultural Review) and that takes into account public and private stakeholders’ views (Participatory Process).The project follows the Intercultural Cities Programme (ICC) approach from the Council of Europe and uses its tools such as the ICC Index.

The knowledge gained is disseminated to local, regional, national and international networks in order to maximize impact and to contribute to the overall objective of integration in Europe.

Through the Intercultural Cities Programme (ICC), cities have proven that diversity can be managed as a resource, enhancing the social and economic benefits of diverse communities and minimizing its potential negative effects. This requires them, they need to review a range of institutions, services and policies and create the appropriate governance structures and mechanisms to remove obstacles and enhance the integration of migrants and minorities and their contribution to the development of the city.