cities&refugees_D14Tampere, Finland’s third-largest city, has been described as being on the “frontline” of the refugee crisis. The city has a population of almost 225,000, and hosts several hundred refugees and asylum seekers (including 880 asylum seekers from January 2014 to December 2015). This is small potatoes compared to some cities in nearby Sweden, or in Germany (Munich, for example, took in 24,000 in 2015). Nevertheless, it still presents a challenge for the city authorities.

In order to take a closer look at the local impact of the refugee crisis, we launched our ‘Cities & Refugees‘ project – aimed at fostering a Europe-wide dialogue between citizens, refugees and asylum seekers, NGOs, politicians, and European leaders. The emphasis will be on connecting local, everyday life at the city level to decisions made in Brussels and national capitals.

This week we’re looking at Tampere, Finland, and the thorny issue of funding. In Finland, the state is responsible for the reception of asylum seekers. Nevertheless, Finnish cities do have responsibility for some services, including organising preschool and primary education, and child welfare services. The Finnish government does pay municipalities for accepting refugees, which works out at €6,845 for children under the age of 7 and €2,300 for older refugees. Nevertheless, central government funding often fails to completely cover the costs.

Curious to know more about paying for refugees in Tampere? We’ve put together some facts and figures in the infographic below (click for a bigger version).14-E4C--Funding-Tampere

We had a comment from Pedro, who thinks that refugees are “clearly being used as scapegoats by a system that does not address the health, social security, economic and housing crises“. In other words, he believes that the “burden” of refugees on municipal authorities is being exaggerated, and the real problems lie elsewhere. Is he right?

To get a response, we spoke to Marja Nyrhinen, Head Coordinator of Immigration Affairs at the City of Tampere. How would she respond?

nyrhinenFirstly, I would say that one shouldn’t always think of refugees and people as a ‘burden’. Refugees, for us, also mean opportunities in term of innovation and different ways of living and thinking. There are, having said that, certain costs when people arrive, especially if they come from very poor or difficult situations. One has to set up a new life in a new environment, and that might be costly (though not always).

However, I do think that the media nowadays tends to exaggerate the cost issue concerning public funding. So, I would say that refugees are not a big burden, but certainly the integration process needs some funding before people can get going and live normal lives.

We also had a comment from Cara, who argues that governments (including local governments) will have to invest in healthcare, housing, and education for refugees. Even if the amounts are being exaggerated, there is still a cost. So, who pays for that? Does the Finnish government provide enough financial support for local authorities that have to accommodate refugees?

nyrhinenNo, it doesn’t. This is something we have been discussing with the government on the national level for years and years and years. There has been a tendency that the national government likes to give us new tasks and not take into consideration that things cost also on the local level. So, in that sense the answer is definitely ‘No’. But it’s not only a question of accommodation; it’s a question of having enough Finnish courses and getting people into these courses, and different kinds of employment issues and such. The costs tend to be here on the local level, and we are getting some funding from the government, but definitely not 100%.

Finally, we had a comment from Mike who argues that funding should be made provided to projects across Europe that support refugees. We asked Marja Nyrhinen what sort of EU funding was already available, and whether she believes more should be provided:

nyrhinenOf course it should, and it is. Two different programmes come to my mind immediately; one is the AMIF (the Asylum, Migration, and Integration Fund), then there is Urban Innovative Actions. And there might be others, but they don’t pop into my mind just now. But the EU is providing funding.

One challenge with EU project funding, however, is that even if you find a very good solution and start something that is very useful and effective, it never gets permanent funding. I think it should be possible for a project – if it is successful and meets certain criteria – to be funded permanently (or at least on a longer basis than two or three years).

Should the EU compensate cities for hosting refugees? Are central governments doing enough to support local authorities in hosting refugees, or should they do more? And is the cost of the refugee crisis to Europe being exaggerated? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: CC / Flickr – Ella
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31 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. Oli Lau

    Well since the money come exactly from the same pocket : taxpayers. it would make more sense if this money would be managed locally. It would be easier for them to have say about it.

  2. Stefania Portici

    i rifugiati vanno ospitati non c’è dubbio. Il problema è che ci sta una profonda ingiustizia sociale che crea conflitti , dettata dalle politiche UE. I fondi per l’ospitalità sono pagati dai cittadini UE e ritornano ai Paesi tramite i fondi. La UE , dopo mille battaglie riconosce questi fondi per i rifugiati GIUSTI ma si dimentica ad esempio dei terremotati. Il denaro che si spende per l’accoglienza viene drenato tolto alla gente europea ,non viene elargito a deficit . La gente europea paga di tasca propria l’ospitalità ma nel bisogno , come il terremoto ….chi ha pagato dorme sotto le tende al freddo e mangia un tozzo di pane secco , mentre ai rifugiati viene data accoglienza con tutti gli onori . Questo crea forte tensione contro le istituzione UE . Non sò se sono riuscita a spiegarmi. Refugees are hosted there’s no doubt. The problem is that there is a deep social injustice which creates conflict, dictated by EU policies. The funds for hospitality are paid by EU citizens and returned to the countries through the funds. The EU, after many battles recognizes these funds for refugees OK but forgets such as the earthquake victims. The money you spend for the reception is drained taken to the European people, it is not given to deficit. The European people pay for their hospitality pocket but in need, such as the earthquake …. who paid sleeping in tents in the cold and eat a dry crust, while the refugees are given reception with all the honors. This creates strong pressure against EU institution. I do not know if I could explain

    • Stefania Portici

      finchè il fenomeno immigrati non riguardava la Germania , la UE TEDESCA ha ignorato il problema , ci ha abbandonati, ci ha fatto pagare di tasca nostra un problema non creato da noi, noi lo abbiamo subito Quando è stata coinvolta la Germania allora ha accettato i fondi (pagati sempre da noi cittadini europei , ma vanno anche a lei ) . La UE tedesca non fa niente se non va a beneficio delle sue tasche . L’Europa è scambiata per popoli da spennare a beneficio di uno ? Cosi non va bene

    • SBMontero

      This is stupid. First, refugees are entitled to their status throughout Europe under international law. Second, those affected by earthquakes, or any other natural disaster, have nothing to do with the status of the refugee, nor with the funds granted to that status. Third, What do you mean that you did not provoke the problem? Do you mean that only those who are responsible for refugees fleeing wars must respect refugee status? What?

  3. Stephen J Gorog

    Refugees yes,migrants no! What about compensating, helping border frontlines like Greece,Italy and Hungary???EU borders must be protected.

  4. Róbert Bogdán

    EU shouldn’t host refugees at all. But we should pay for this luxury by compensating others for doing that. We have a heart but brains too.

  5. Stefania Portici

    il problema è molto più grande. Non ci sta solo immigrazione dall’Africa ma anche dal medio oriente. La Turchia chiude di là ma loro passano di qua. Non possiamo farli morire in mare ma non possiamo neanche ospitarli tutti, sono troppi. Vanno aiutati a rimanere nella loro terra eliminado il problema che li fa fuggire . La Germania deve avere una visione dell’insieme che fin’ora ha dimostrato di non avere , pensa solo a se è questo il problema the problem is much larger. There is not only immigration from Africa but also from the Middle East. Turkey closes beyond but they pass this way. We can not let them die at sea, but we can not even accommodate them all, they are too many. They should be helped to remain on their land thus eliminating the problem that makes them flee. Germany must have a vision of the whole which until now has been shown to have, just think about if this is the problem

    • Stefania Portici

      io ho detto “aiutarli a rimanere nella loro terra eliminando il problema che li fa fuggire ” che sarebbe la soluzione giusta a mio parere ma capisco anche che il problema che li fa fuggire non è semplice risolverlo. Qualsiasi altra soluzione se ne deve parlare e trovare una via che vada bene per tutti ,che non è quella di pagare la Turchia per tamponare un problema che non tampona, soldi buttati

    • Stefania Portici

      io ho detto “aiutarli a rimanere nella loro terra eliminando il problema che li fa fuggire ” che sarebbe la soluzione giusta a mio parere ma capisco anche che il problema che li fa fuggire non è semplice risolverlo. Qualsiasi altra soluzione se ne deve parlare e trovare una via che vada bene per tutti . La soluzione non è quella di pagare la Turchia per tamponare un problema che non tampona. I soldi dati alla Turchia sono denari dei cittadini europei buttati , che potevano essere utilizzati in modo migliore

  6. Paul X

    If the refugees are there as part of the EU distribution policy then the EU should be footing the bill.

    Isn’t the life of an EU politician nice and easy, you can dream up all these heart warming liberal left policies then impose them on countries and expect the local taxpayers to foot the bill……..they like to claim all the credit but bear none of the financial responsibility………..I’m definitely in the wrong job

  7. Fernando Nabais

    We were told that hosting refugees is very good for our cities because they become even more multucultural and it improves the economy. So, what is the point in compensating the cities that already are benefiting from hosting refugees…? Or is Debating Europe admitting that hosting refugees is a tragedy for the host cities?

  8. Liam Griffin

    compensate the landlords and direct provision providers like? Don’t they make enough out of the poor unfortunates?

  9. Andrew Potts

    One of the holy cows of open borders is the ” economic benefit” of these wonderful workers arriving here to pay the older populations pensions so if the EU is talking compensation then there is a big lie somewhere

    • Max Berre

      That literally makes no sense.

    • Paul X

      Refugees are people supposedly fleeing war and persecution, if they are true refugees the last thing on their mind would be looking for a job.

      If you are referring to immigrants then the “big lie” is that they all find jobs with high enough wages for them to pay tax and NI and contribute to the populations pensions

  10. EU Reform- Proactive

    When the EU promises to make payments or pay “compensations”- the (future massive) EU budget deficit and unpaid bills comes to mind!

    A smaller EU budget (after Brexit)- means fewer funds to distribute. Unchanged EU structure & projects means increased contributions by member states. Who will agree to that? Hardly anybody- except a pro EU Germany- to save the financially failing EU.

    While a tired looking Isabelle Thomas (S&D) seems to believe 75% of the budget is composed of “OWN RESOURCES”- EU statistics show it is already funded chiefly 98% from the EU’s “own resources”. Who doesn’t know their numbers?

    BTW: Own resources? A misnomer! Brussels bureaucrats and their regulations only cost money- spread over all members. EU= a redistribution one arm bandit!

    Yes, the EU’s 6 year budget is futuristic- not knowing which member will exit next or which beggar nation will “enhance” the EU receivers club.

    http://ec.europa.eu/budget/explained/budg_system/financing/fin_en.cfm

  11. Tarquin Farquhar

    Morally, perhaps there is a case for such compensation; however, doling out cash to countries such as Greece or Italy does introduce the possibility of massive corruption!.

    A better idea methinks is to cram many more refugees into the likes of Greece or Italy and reap the benefits thereafter:

    More people means more jobs.
    More jobs means bigger GDP.
    Bigger GDP means more wealth.
    More people from outside Italy or Greece means ‘corruption dilution’.
    Accommodation made empty by the ex-pat indigenous entrepreneurs from Greece or Italy can now be let to refugees!

    SIMPLES!

    • EU Reform- Proactive

      My dear Brexit friend,

      Some questions in “practical economics”- without any pinch of sarcasm:

      Do “more people” generally lead & equate automatically to the creation of more jobs?
      Do “more refugees” generally lead & equate automatically to the creation of more jobs?
      Do “more migrants” generally lead & equate automatically to the creation of more jobs?

      Can one label all 3 categories of “people” equally as potential workers- being “equally” cost-effectively usable in a first world (EU) economy? Considering:

      • being easily & quickly employable & deploy able,
      • health status & educational differentials,
      • easily integratable, integrable or integrate able,
      • the % who bring ready made, useful or rare skills,
      • degree of adaptability,
      • Culturally able to assimilate- sooner rather than never?

      Shouldn’t all “this” be planned & done with due considerations to avoid the creation of a new & unequal class within an existing, still stable & homogeneous (EU) society?

      Yes, generally the creation of more jobs grows the economy, but un-selectively adding more “people” into a stagnant EU (which is technologically advanced & innovative)- without government intervention- is a bit more tricky- me thinks! (see Brexit)

      The devil is usually hidden in the details- and- the EU is only a regulated concept- not a state nor a sovereign government! Dimples or Simples?

  12. SBMontero

    I’m sorry, I don’t know why the EU should compensate cities for hosting refugees, when these cities are only comply with refugee status and international legality.

  13. Vytautas Vėžys

    Why should all union pay for GERMAN decision to take as many refugees as possible?
    Take responsibility for your actions God damn it…

  14. Desmond Moore

    Countries that lie on the perimeter of the EU should receive funding from EU budget to provide refegee facilities sufficient for the likely influx. The refugee problem is not going to go away. Countries like Greece should not have to burden the cost on their own. Also, countries that wish to take refugees should be given funds to support refugees. It should not be mandatory that countries should have to take refugees.Also, there should be restrictions on refugees movement when settled in a particular country. I would like that all countries would welcome refugees and there would be free movement but this not practical at this time.

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