The Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions (CPMR) is delighted that several of its member regions offered to host asylum seekers rescued by the Aquarius humanitarian ship.
After the Aquarius was refused permission to dock in Italy, several of the CPMR’s Spanish member regions, the Basque Country, Navarra, the Balearic Islands and Catalonia offered to help, while its French member region, Corsica, also offered its assistance.
Following agreement reached with the Spanish Government, the Aquarius will now be escorted by two Italian ships to the port of another CPMR Spanish member, the Valencia region, which has once more shown its willingness to help people in need of humanitarian assistance.
This is the latest example of CPMR regions taking action to help migrants. In February 2016, the Valencia and the South Aegean regions signed a Memorandum of Understanding in which the regional government of Valencia agreed to facilitate the transfer of 1,100 refugees from South Aegean islands, covering all costs, including their healthcare and education.
Rena Dourou, Governor of Greece’s Attica Region and Eleni Marianou, CPMR Secretary General also met with President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, in April 2016, to stress that regions should be given the support they need to contribute to the implementation of the EU’s migration strategy.
In the same year, Catalonia offered to receive 1,800 refugees and the recently elected government has reiterated this offer, stating that between local and regional authorities, they are fully prepared to provide support.
CPMR Secretary General, Eleni Marianou, said: “The positive reaction of our regions to the plight of the asylum seekers onboard the Aquarius shows that they are ready to welcome people in need of humanitarian assistance, according to the European project’s values of inclusion and equality.
“However, if the potential of regions to help welcome migrants and asylum seekers is to be properly recognised, then a more effective EU migration policy must be developed, taking into account the importance of multi-level governance, including regions in EU decision making, and giving them the resources they need for the reception and integration of migrants.”
The CPMR has developed the issue paper ‘Migration and Asylum in EU Regions’, which calls for the reform of EU Migration and Cohesion policies and their financial instruments for the post-2020 period, to increase acknowledgement on the added value and potential of the role of regions.
It provides evidence and recommendations on why regions should be given resources and why they need to help to manage migration and asylum more effectively on the ground, particularly when it comes to the reception, integration of migrants and refugees, or diversity management, in a more integrated EU space.