20 May 2021 - 15 Jul 2021

Territorial impact of migration on frontline regions and cities on the EU shores of the Mediterranean

The socio-economic impact of migration and everyday problems relating to receiving and integrating migrants are strongly felt at local and regional level. It is evident that migration patterns vary from region to region and their impact is unevenly distributed. Some EU Member States are more exposed to these migratory flows than others owing to their geographical location. Those on the frontline are under a particularly heavy burden from migration and are seeking solutions. Recently, a group of Mediterranean states (Spain, Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Malta) created the so-called MED5 to speak with one voice on migration policies.

The challenges brought about by migratory flows from third countries are significant for cities and regions that are close to points of entry into the EU as well as for those that receive many asylum seekers or refugees. This became apparent in 2015, when record numbers of refugees, asylum seekers and other migrants arrived in the EU. In order to improve the coordination of European assistance in areas of significant migratory pressure, the European Commission developed a 'hotspot approach' as part of the European Agenda for Migration, and this was further developed during the Justice and Home Affairs Council meetings.

Currently, five hotspots have been set up in Italy and Greece. In addition to the hotspots, which are regions that are clearly under migratory pressure, the Canary Islands experienced a surge in migrant arrivals in 20204, leaving national and regional authorities overwhelmed in trying to accommodate them. Combined with the public health restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this led to the rapid deterioration of the humanitarian situation and sparked some protests among the local population.

The objectives of this study are to examine:

  1. The territorial impact of migration on the selected EU frontline regions and cities in the Mediterranean and the implications for the local and regional authorities and their abilities to provide public services.
  2. Local and regional authorities' involvement in integrating migrants in the selected frontline regions and cities in the Mediterranean, possibly facilitated by EU funds, and the social and economic gains generated through this process. In terms of coverage of the Euro-Med region, this study is to focus only on the EU Member States in this region, and from those only Spain, Italy, Malta, Greece and Cyprus.

In accordance with the above objective, the aim of this project is to provide factual, synthetic and visually friendly answers to the following questions:

Q1: What do we know about the recent impact of migration via the Western Mediterranean route, the Central Mediterranean route, and the Eastern Mediterranean route on EU frontline regions and cities in the Mediterranean?

Q2: What do we know about local integration strategies that have been developed in these frontline regions and cities in the Mediterranean, transforming the potential of migratory flows into social and economic gains benefitting both the host community and the third country nationals?


Client: The European Committee of the Regions

Partner: IMED