Cities are where targeted integration measures and public services are provided to a vast majority of immigrants in the EU. Whether services are adequate, respond to needs and are available across all relevant issue areas (like housing, social services, education,…), is a key determinant for long-term integration. However, the ability of local authorities to deliver services depends on their national contexts, such as cities’ legal competencies in different policy fields, the strength of the welfare state, the efficiency of coordination with the national or regional levels of government, and cities’ financial capacities.
In this context, EU policies and programmes offer multiple opportunities to improve, or widen the scope, of services provided to immigrants by cities. Next to targeted means (e.g. under the EU migration and integration policy), immigrants may gain from programmes linked to EU cohesion and other policies, as they are implemented in Member States. The 2015/16 arrivals brought to the fore issues like direct access to funds for cities, timely reaction to newly arising needs or eligibility criteria. Moreover, EU law directly impacts on the de-facto access immigrants have to key services, such as EU directives on the status of refugees or anti-discrimination. Currently, the Urban Agenda for the EU is a major joint initiative of the Commission, Member States and cities to render EU policies responsive to the needs of the local level, and for strengthened participation of cities in EU policy-making. In addition, decisions on the 2021 to 2027 financial and programme framework will determine the availability of EU means to support the provision of services and integration measures on city level.