Report: EUKN-IMAGINATION Conference

On Monday, May 23rd 2016, the European Urban Knowledge Network, in cooperation with the IMAGINATION researchers, organised a conference to discuss the management of urban consequences of intra-EU mobility.

The JPI Urban Europe funded research project “Urban implications and governance of CEE migration in Europe” (IMAGINATION) offers research based evidence regarding the increasing diversification of intra-EU mobility, the impacts on receiving cities, and the governance approaches to address these. 

Around 50 participants united at the event, consisting of mainly representatives of research institutes and universities, knowledge institutes and international organisations, NGOs as well as national and local governments. The conference was chaired by Mart Grisel, direction of EUKN.

During the introductory speech, Mr. Winfried Houtman, Director General of the Department of Social Development of the City of Rotterdam, raised several questions that his city is dealing with at the moment, when it comes to mobile EU citizens from CEE, such as how to keep an eye on the increasing amount of unregistered mobile EU citizens s.

The keynote speaker, Professor Godfried Engbersen, one of the researchers in the IMAGINATION project and Professor of Sociology at Erasmus University Rotterdam gave a brief presentation of the main research results. According to the Mr Engbersen   there is a clash between facilitating free movement and the concept of integration underlying migrant integration policies, and he points out that there is an urgent need to raise awareness about new temporalities as well as to differentiate between different types of individuals reaching Western European cities, both being key challenges relevant to contemporary integration policies.

The keynote speech was followed by a round table discussion which brought together researchers from the IMAGINATION project, representatives of local governments (Gothenburg and Rotterdam), national governments (Netherlands), NGOs (Stichting Barka NL)and other urban stakeholders specialised in integration issues (Austrian Integration Fund). Following a response from all speakers to the keynote presentation, questions from the audience were debated and raised attention to the remarkable differences in policy orientation from one city to another, as well as between the different stakeholders. All panellists also agreed that Free movement is a complex issue precisely because it is fundamentally an EU issue,  but there is a lot of ambiguity and confusion due to the absence of the EU level in governance approached to tackle problems related to intra-EU mobility.

Following the inspiring round table discussion, the participants were divided to participate in parallel workshop sessions, covering topics such as on how to improve data collection and monitoring of mobile EU citizens, access to information and the related services for mobile EU citizens from CEE, how to utilize opportunities offered by the latter and thus to prevent negative consequences for urban regions, as well as on how to counter the risk of marginalization of new arrivals.

The Conference was concluded by reports on the workshop conclusions by the rapporteurs of these workshops.

For a full report on the conference, please follow this link.

The handbook for the conference can be found here (PDF) or here (E-Pub).