Desktop version

Home arrow Sociology arrow Integration Processes and Policies in Europe

Impacts of Local Governments' Transnational Activities

Before discussing the impacts of local governments' transnational activities, it is important to note that because these policies peaked between 2000 and 2008, most research focuses on this period. Furthermore, empirical evidence of impacts is scarce. A few studies indicate that the city-to-city linkages have indeed helped to strengthen social cohesion in destination countries, although they do not discuss impacts in detail. Examples include cooperation between two London boroughs and partners in Sierra Leone and Bangladesh, respectively (Evans 2009). Grillo and Riccio (2004) discuss the work of Cuffini and colleagues (1993), who argue that the city-to-city linkages between French and African countries (including several countries of origin) were relevant in combating racism in France. Similar impacts are reported for city-to-city linkages connecting the Netherlands with Morocco and Turkey (Van Ewijk 2013).

According to Van Ewijk (ibid.), Dutch actors have learned about issues related to integration through exchanges and, moreover, linkages between institutions and citizens of Moroccan and Turkish descent were to some extent also strengthened. The international programmes either functioned as “icebreakers” between formal institutions and migrant groups, or facilitated learning on sociocultural issues. For instance, teachers involved in an exchange programme with Turkey said they could now communicate more easily with the parents of Turkish children at their school. Police officers who had visited a Moroccan partner municipality reported that they could now better relate to migrant groups, as they had acquired an understanding of the challenges faced by migrants living in their municipality. The cooperation between the police department of Rotterdam and that of Casablanca is an example of transnational exchange on terrorism and transnational crime. This programme has enabled the Rotterdam police to build networks and knowledge about how the Moroccan police operate (e.g., its hierarchical organization), facilitating cooperation with Morocco in tracing people suspected of criminal activities (ibid.). Knowledge about impacts in origin countries is extremely limited. According to Van Ewijk (ibid.), several of the Dutch–Moroccan and Dutch–Turkish municipal partnerships she studied had a dual focus: to strengthen social cohesion in the Netherlands and to strengthen local governance processes in Morocco and Turkey (usually in terms of service delivery and citizen participation). The partnerships were particularly important in promoting multi-stakeholder collaboration, as the exchanges stimulated cooperation between governmental and nongovernmental actors in both Morocco and Turkey. In the cases studied, few linkages between governmental and nongovernmental actors had existed before the partnership was created. For instance, in a partnership between Haarlem (the Netherlands) and Emirdağ (Turkey), the University of Afyon worked together with a primary school, an environmental NGO, a provincial environmental organization, and the municipality to improve the waste management system and introduce a waste collection system. These arrangements should be viewed against the background of the decentralization processes that are taking place in many countries, including Turkey, whereby responsibilities and budgets are being transferred from the central to the local government level. Hence, local governments are increasingly seeking to work in multiactor arrangements (Pierre 2000; Van Kersbergen and Van Waarden 2001).

There are few examples of local governments in North-Western Europe supporting NGO co-development initiatives without being actively involved in the exchange. Nonetheless, the idea of co-development was well established by the late 1990s in France, where it received official acknowledgement and also influenced governments and policies elsewhere in Europe (Grillo and Riccio 2004). The approach was central in Catalonia where a large number of local governments were engaged in supporting the initiatives of community-based organizations and NGOs (ØstergaardNielsen 2011). This phenomenon was also observed in Italy, although few Italian local authorities actually engaged in co-development projects (Grillo and Riccio 2004). Research on the impacts of these activities is scarce. According to ØstergaardNielsen (2011, 36), it will only be possible to evaluate the dynamics of codevelopment policies once more programmes have run their course. Most studies refer to various initiatives or analyse the impacts of these programmes on the groups of migrants who undertake the activities. Although most co-development programmes are open to all migrant groups living in municipalities in destination countries, among initiatives in origin countries those of West African migrants are clearly dominant. The migrant collectives with the highest participation rates in Catalonia were comprised of migrants from Senegal, Equatorial Guinea, and Gambia, though the migrant populations originating from these countries represents only 3 % of the total migrant population. The two largest groups in Catalonia (Moroccan and Ecuadorian migrants) were less involved, and representatives of these groups indicated that they were focusing more on integration processes within Catalonia (Østergaard-Nielsen 2011). The literature describes several other initiatives by West African migrants, including those of Malian migrants living in Saint Denis, a suburb of Paris (Petiteville 1995; Grillo and Riccio 2004). A limited number of initiatives by Italo–Senegalese organizations and Senegalese organizations linked to or supervised by Italian organizations are also mentioned (Grillo and Riccio 2004). Grillo and Riccio discuss the importance of transnational networks but also note problems of control and misunderstandings related mainly to naive expectations and the idealization of partners. Policies are sometimes also received with scepticism by migrants, as they feel they are 'token participants without any real influence' (ØstergaardNielsen 2011, 32). Grillo and Riccio (2004, 109) conclude that co-development is 'no better nor worse than more conventional forms of development'.

An interesting “three-way” integration process is that of some municipal partnerships, whereby countries of origin play a role in supporting the integration process in destination countries. Gilgili & Agimi (2015) refer to examples of direct subnational support for emigrant employment, health care, and political participation. Van Ewijk (2013) reports, for instance, that administrative staff and policy advisors of municipalities in northern Morocco were willing to dedicate time and knowledge to strengthen the integration of Moroccan migrants in the Netherlands, as they felt the Moroccan migrants were trapped between two countries with different cultures. As the former mayor of Al Hoceima (Morocco) put it, 'It was obvious that these people did not have a good relationship with their father or their mother. It's not their fault; it is the parents' (cited in Van Ewijk 2013, 207). The limited engagement of parents of Moroccan descent with their children's Dutch schooling was one of the key issues discussed, and Moroccan officials were also involved in stimulating migrants to participate in elections. Community-based organizations that have been part of a city-to-city partnership have also been actively involved in exchanging knowledge on issues related to integration. An example is an exchange between women's organizations in Meppel (the Netherlands) and Al Hoceima, whereby women of Moroccan descent in Meppel were challenged by women in Al Hoceima to play a stronger role in their own municipality.

As discussed elsewhere in this chapter, few examples of these “three-way” integration process are described in the literature, and there is limited knowledge about the role of local authorities in sending countries. These activities are hampered by the limited capacity and mandates of local authorities in origin countries, and obviously they can only contribute to immigration integration in cooperation with local authorities in destination countries (Bilgili and Agimi 2015).

Found a mistake? Please highlight the word and press Shift + Enter  
< Prev   CONTENTS   Next >

Related topics