A Local Turn for European Refugee Politics

Recommendations for Strengthening Municipalities and Local Communities in refugee and asylum policy of the EU

The European Union’s refugee and asylum policy has reached an impasse. The reception of persons seeking protection from the crisis regions in Europe’s surrounding areas is distributed unfairly. Some states refuse to take in any refugees at all, while others are struggling to cope with a large number of refugees as a result of regulations such as the Dublin regulation. It is interesting that it is in those places which are shouldering the largest burden of the integration that particular migration and integration policy strategies can be seen, namely in the municipalities throughout Europe.

For this reason, new strategies in EU asylum and refugee policy, which will remove the blockades, should start right there. In this policy paper “A Local Turn for European Refugee Politics” the Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung puts forward proposals for a more active role of the municipalities in refugee and asylum policy.


Product details
Date of Publication
March 2019
Heinrich Böll Foundation
Number of Pages
Language of publication
Table of contents



1 Introduction

2 The status quo: municipalities in European migration policy

2.1 Municipal self-perception – from integration policy to migration policy

2.2 Institutions and instruments for the involvement of municipalities in European migration policy

2.3 Transnational networks and municipal representation of interests

2.4 Financial deficits

2.5 Structural deficits: the partnership principle as unused potential

2.6 Recommendations for action: Key stumbling blocks on the way to an improved integration of municipalities

3 What is to be done – recommendations for action for a better involvement of the municipalities in EU refugee and asylum policy

3.1 Reform EU funds

3.2 Give the municipalities a greater say

3.3 Introduce a municipal relocation mechanism

4 Closing remarks

List of abbreviations

List of references

The authors