The Path of Least Resistance? EU Cities and Locally Organized Resettlement

Tihomir Sabchev and Moritz Baumgärte

Forced Migration Review, Issue 63, February 2020


This article highlights efforts being made by some EU cities to locally organize resettlement for refugees. For example, in Italy, a project led by the church organization Community of Sant’ Egidio organizes the resettlement of 750 refugees each year through its Humanitarian Corridors initiative. Refugees receive reception and integration assistance from a large network of local church associations, civil society, NGOs and families. The authors argue that the expansion of these initiatives by local governments could represent the path of least resistance to more far-reaching reforms of the EU migration governance system. So far they have not been challenged politically or legally. The authors suggest that cities are the logical sites for the development of sustainable refugee resettlement schemes because: (1) local authorities are in a position to assess, easily and accurately, local capacity to host and integrate refugees; (2) many local authorities have gained significant expertise in managing refugee reception and integration and are willing to continue investing in this field; and (3) local governments have begun to collaborate directly with UN organizations and NGOs and can build on these relationships.


European Union