Barcelona holds an international symposium on receiving refugees and refugee integration policies
Co-organized by Diplocat and GRITIM-UPF
The Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia (Diplocat) and the Interdisciplinary Research Group on Immigration (GRITIM) from the Pompeu Fabra University organized an international symposium on the challenges and opportunities relating to the current arrival of many refugees in Europe – from political, social, and economic points of view. The symposium was held with the collaboration of the Secretary for Equality, Migration, and Citizenship of the Catalan government.
The event dealt with one of the greatest challenges currently on the global agenda: the question of refugees and forced migration, and how the social and economic inclusion of these migrants and their families can be dealt with within our society. Speakers from three countries carrying out active policies in this area – Canada, Portugal, and Sweden – shared their experiences and good practices and talked about a range of doubts and problems.
Jaume Casals, Chancellor of the Pompeu Fabra University, Albert Royo, Secretary General of the Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia, and Maria Badia, Secretary of Foreign Affairs and the EU in the Catalan government welcomed participants and opened the event. They all pointed out the commitments and solidarity of the Catalan people towards refugees, commitments which cannot be fully exercised due to the Catalan institutions not holding full powers in these political areas.
First round table
This introduction was followed by two round table debates, the first of which had a more institutional and political character. Pedro Calado, High Commissioner for Migration in Portugal, explained that Portugal currently has ten immigrants for every one emigrant, and he pointed out the entrepreneurial character of many foreigners living in Portugal. Bernd Parusel, political expert at the Immigration Agency in Sweden, spoke about the positive integrating experience of the Balkans refugees who arrived in Sweden in the 1990s, and he highlighted the role of local municipalities in developing active and efficient policies. Finally, Deborah Tunis, special coordinator for the resettlement of Syrian refugees of the Federal Government of Canada, explained that – as in Portugal – in Canada here is a huge political consensus regarding this issue, and this helps matters move on. Tunis also spoke about the need to design long term policies and not just ones of immediate and temporary action when there is a crisis.
Second round table
In the second round table discussion, Pieter Bevelander, Chair of International Migration and Ethnic Relations at the University of Malmö, compared the integration policies of Canada and Sweden. Rui Marques, president of the Platform for the Support of Refugees (PAR) in Portugal presented this body’s activities, and Leslie Seidle, director of research at the Institute of Public Policy Research in Montreal, presented a catalogue of good practices in fields such as communication, coordination, or financing policies related to refugees.
In the closing session, Oriol Amorós, Secretary for Equality, Migrations, and Citizenship in the Catalan government thanked the participants for their contributions and stated that debates such as these are useful for improving policies applied in Catalonia to improve the situation of refugees. Ricard Zapata-Barrero, director of the GRITIM-UPF, also thanked all the participants and the public and confirmed that they would keep working in the academic field to contribute to developing the necessary political and social policies for this question.
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Last updated: 17 July 2017