The 'Barcelona, Refugee City' plan drives actions in countries of origin and along the route, and coordinates and collaborates with other cities and international NGOs and bodies working on the ground.
The refugee cities network
Coordination between towns and cities is essential. It is cities that receive refugees or will have to in the future, and where they have to integrate and start a secure life.
At a time when many cities in the south of Europe are being abandoned by the State when it comes to shouldering the responsibility of refugees and migrants arriving in their cities, Barcelona has been the driving force behind the European refugee cities network Solidarity Cities, which has also been joined by many municipalities in Spain. The main objectives of the network is to promote cooperation and the sharing of information and good practice, both for mutual support in emergency situations and to share intervention strategies.
The refugee is an increasingly urban phenomenon and the response should also be urban. Cities not only offer services and places to work; they are also essential in offering protection to people fleeing armed conflict and other kinds of violence.
The network also promotes political initiatives to press the responsible authorities to fulfil their international and European commitments, as well as to come up with policies that tackle the root of the problem and go beyond just taking in refugees.
Within this framework, the City Council is pushing for and working towards establishing a legal corridor so that refugees can reach the European Union safely and to avoid further deaths.
Collaboration with other municipalities also takes place in a city-to-city relationship as part of several international networks which the City Council is a part of, such as Eurocities, Medcities, the World Association of Major Metropolises, and the United Cities and Local Governments network (UCLG). Formal networks are essential for collaboration, cooperation and mutual understanding.
Along with other urban centres, such as Amsterdam, Athens, Berlin and Helsinki, Barcelona is driving the first attempt at multi-level governance by the European Commission: the EU Urban Agenda, resulting from the Pact of Amsterdam, working to strengthen the voices of cities in the power structures of Brussels and to ensure they are eligible to receive emergency funds in the same way as states and organisations.
The “City to City” programme
The 'Barcelona, Refugee City' plan has implemented the 'From City to City' programme to provide assistance and expertise to specific municipal projects in cities with the densest population of refugees in transit and that receive the largest proportion of people fleeing their own countries in search of safety.
The principle behind the direct cooperation programme is to help whose who help and to tackle the state paralysis by opening lines of cooperation between cities that support the refugees as well as the locations.
The initiative has been rolled out in the cities of Athens and Lesbos in Greece, Lampedusa in Italy, Gdansk in Poland, Hamburg in Germany and Amsterdam in the Netherlands.
Intervention in the country of origin and along the route
Barcelona City Council’s work related to global justice has become a distinctive and key policy, at the same time demonstrating Barcelona's profile and leadership in the growing internationalist activism found in cities. It shows its support and commitment, along with the active support of its citizens and their organisations, to civil society, all of whom are committed to working together for transformative solidarity and cooperation.
This is done directly through the Global Justice and Cooperation Department, through subsidies, bilateral city-to-city cooperation, cooperation with other bodies and multilateral cooperation, and in association with other municipalities as part of the Catalan Development Cooperation Fund (FCCD).
As a result of and in response to civic demand, the annual budget of this department is 0.7% of the City Council’s revenue.