Working Paper: Migration and the role of European Territorial Cooperation

The joint ESPON and Interact Working Paper “Migration and the Role of European Territorial Cooperation (ETC)” stems from the conclusions of the General Affairs Council meeting in November 2015. The Council emphasised that Interreg programmes, even though operating with a medium and long-term perspective, may support, where necessary and justified, and in complementarity with other appropriate funding streams to help respond to migration challenges. The role of the ETCs was seen to address the migrant crisis by fostering institutional and administrative cooperation between EU and non-EU countries, supporting emergency measures such as the provision of shelters, and funding medium-term inclusion projects promoting the integration of migrants into the labour market or cooperation in the area of training. The council also recognised the potential role of the ESPON and INTERACT programmes in providing territorial evidence and supporting Interreg managing authorities.

In this light, ESPON is currently conducting 2 research activities on the topic: Targeted Analysis “Territorial and Urban Potentials Connected to Migration and Refugee Flows” and Applied Research “Impacts of Refugee Flows to Territorial Development in Europe” and Interact launched the Pilot Action “Interreg response to migration-related challenges” which will establish an exchange and cooperation network between Interreg, Interreg IPA and ENI cross- border programmes and establish guidelines for Interreg projects on migration and also promotes project examples and best practices from ETC, synergies and complementarities with other funds and initiatives. All this has the aim of improving Interreg response and actions in this field.

As the post-2020 EU programmes and budget is taking shape, this paper is looking at the challenges and opportunities related to territorial cooperation and managing migration flows and integration. The paper will focus on current and possible future migration-related challenges, policy responses with highlighting some examples of concrete actions that have been undertaken so far.


Transnational cooperation is needed to manage the flows of migrants and refugees in arrival, transit, and final destination countries, regions and cities across Europe as well as with EU neighbouring countries by:

- developing joint systems to regulate controls and flows of extra-European migrants and ease the pressure on entrance points;

- facilitating welcoming, aid, processing, and transit of asylum seekers and migrants at borders;

- establishing twinning projects between arrival regions of extra-European immigrants and other regions.

Transnational/national-regional-local cooperation is needed to reduce the inflow pressure on areas with a high concentration of migrant diasporas as well as on very remote areas to support integration and assimilation by:

- matching immigrants competences, skills, and experiences with their relocation settings;

- developing joint solutions for urban segregation and rural exclusion and facilitating interactions between natives and immigrants;

 Transnational/national-regional-local cooperation is needed for addressing integration by:

- Developing joint actions to help familiarise newcomers with their new environment, help them learn language, access education, training, labour market and housing;

- strengthen joint labour mobility platforms to better integrate immigrants to the labour markets by matching immigrants competences, skills and experiences with the territorial needs and opportunities.

International cooperation is needed for addressing cross-thematic issues related to migration like climate change, technological transition, commerce, ageing, unemployment by:

- developing joint actions to contribute to the mitigative and adaptive measures related to climate change;

- addressing the global socioeconomic trends and matching these with national, regional and local needs, opportunities and challenges


ESPON Working Paper Migation.pdf

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