Presentation of the conclusions on 12-13 June 2012 in Brussels (Belgium)

A final partners’ meeting was organised on 12 June 2012 in the Council of Europe Office in Brussels. It was followed by a conference to the attention of other European partners to present the results and lessons from SPARDA on 13 June 2012 in the Committee of Regions of the European Union. The communication campaigns on diversity and integration in the seven partner cities and the results of the perception surveys which assess their results were presented and recommendations to policy makers and other local stakeholders for more effective communication strategies were discussed.

Delivering a speech, Congress President Keith Whitmore praised the work done by SPARDA in communicating diversity and building dialogue on diversity issues with the local population. Speaking about immigration at local level, President Whitmore called for a new model of participatory democracy, involving migrants and minority groups. In particular, he highlighted the need to take action to ensure foreign residents have equal access to social rights and public services, to fight prejudice against migrants and to raise public awareness of their cultures and contribution to the local community. In this respect the SPARDA project, concluded President Whitmore, could further contribute to fostering community dialogue, and engaging collective action and participation.

 

The findings and lessons from SPARDA will be included in the toolkit of the Intercultural cities programme – a joint action of the of the Council of Europe and the European Commission that aims at stimulating new ideas and practice in relation to the integration of migrants and minorities. The network facilitates mutual mentoring and exchange between cities which all face the challenge of migration and diversity.

European attitudes towards migrants very mixed

The Council of Europe's latest effort to manage growing diversity throughout the continent began with the presentation of preliminary results of a poll on how citizens in certain European cities perceive migrants. The results were very mixed.

The poll was carried out by independent social research institute IPSOS. It is the first step in an 18-month programme called SPARDA: Shaping perceptions and attitudes to realise the diversity advantage that runs until June 2012.

Commissioned by the Council of Europe and the European Union, the IPSOS poll highlighted reactions to migrants in seven European cities: Lyon, France; Limassol, Cyprus; Valencia/Pactem Nord, Spain; Reggio Emilia, Italy; Coimbra, Portugal; Patras, Greece and Had-Dingli, Malta. It was discussed during a 7-8 July SPARDA conference in Limassol Cyprus.

Successful integration of migrants depends strongly on perceptions in the host community of migrants and on ethno-cultural diversity. Such perceptions are a product of complex factors and circumstances. But to a certain extent, perceptions can be influenced by the way opinion leaders – in particular political leaders and media – address such issues.

The SPARDA methodology tests this hypothesis. This initial poll serves as a barometer upon which cities can base their information campaigns, running towards the end of 2012. The second surveys, to be carried out after the end of the campaigns, will provide an idea of how much the campaigns have influenced the perceptions of the local communities towards migrants.

Lyon (France)

Lyon is the second largest city in France and is the capital of the Rhône-Alpes region. It is the regions most densely populated area – with a population size of 445,274 inhabitants (1999) . It is also France’s second largest business capital after Paris. It is a major industrial centre specialising in chemical, pharmaceutical and biotech industries and there is also a significant software industry. It also hosts the international headquarters of Interpol and Euronews.

In 1999, it was estimated that 8% of the total population were foreign nationals. Regardless of their nationality today, 14% were born abroad, 4.2% of these in Algeria and 3.3% in the EU (INSEE).

According to results from the current survey, Lyon residents are most likely, in comparison with other local entities included in the study, to have high contact with people from different backgrounds to themselves (either in their neighbourhoods or at work). Thirty-eight per cent of respondents report having a lot of contact and 41% a medium amount of contact. It is likely this is due to the fact it is a large city with a diverse population.

Respondents are also more likely to have travelled or lived abroad than residents in many of the other cities. They are also most likely to report that there local area is a place where people from different ethnic and religious backgrounds get on well together (75% in comparison with an average of 59%).

Lyon is also a part of the Council of Europe ICC strategy.

* French National Institute for Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE)

Coimbra (Portugal)

 

Coimbra is one of the most important urban centres in Portugal. Although it served as a capital during the middle ages, it is better-known nowadays for its university which is one of the oldest in Europe and the oldest academic institution in the Portuguese-speaking world. According to the 2001 Census, the city has a population of 101,069 and the municipality a population of 148,443.

There is a long history of emigration from former Indian, African and Asian overseas territories. Since the 1990s, alongside the boom in the construction industry, several new waves of Brazilian and Ukrainian migrants have settled. These constitute the two largest migrant groups in Coimbra.

According to results from the current survey, Coimbra residents are more likely than residents from most of the other local entities included in the study to have a low level of contact with people from a different ethnic background to themselves (13% high; 11% medium and 76% low). Of all the local entities, Coimbra had the second highest proportion of respondents classified as having low contact. Respondents are also significantly less likely than those in Lyon and Limassol to have travelled or lived abroad. The majority of respondents report that they feel their local area is a place where people from different ethnic and religious backgrounds get on well together (68%).

Had-Dingli (Malta)

Had-Dingli is a small city on the west coast of Malta, 13 kilometres from the capital Valetta. In November 2005, it was estimated to have a population of 3,326 people.

Diversity profile.

According to results from the current survey, an overwhelming majority (94%) of the residents surveyed were classified as having low contact with people from a different background to themselves (in comparison with 2% who had high contact and 4% medium contact). Of all the local entities surveyed, Had-Dingli has the highest proportion of respondents categorised as having low contact with people from different backgrounds. Respondents are also significantly less likely than residents in Lyon and Limassol to have travelled or lived abroad. Unsurprisingly, residents are more likely than those in most other local entities to report that they could not say whether people from different ethnic and religious backgrounds get on well together because there are too few people in the local area (17%) or residents are all from the same background (23%). However, of those that felt they could comment, 45% agree that people from different ethnic and religious backgrounds get on well, in comparison with 8% who disagree.

Patras (Greece)

Patras is the capital of Greece’s western region. It is also the principal port looking towards the Ionian islands and Italy. Population? The City of Patras is a Schengen Treaty entry point for the EU, linking Europe to the East. The metropolitan area of Patras is estimated to have a population of 230,000.

There is a high proportion of Albanians living in the city that arrived as a result of economic migration. There is also a reasonably high proportion of people from Eastern European countries.

According to results from the current survey, 62% of Patras residents surveyed lived in neighbourhoods or worked with people from a different ethnic background to themselves (25% high; 37% medium and 38% low). They are significantly less likely than residents in Lyon and Limassol to have travelled or lived abroad. Residents are more likely than those in most other local entities to report that they feel their local areas is not a place where people from different ethnic and religious backgrounds get on well together (39%). Although, the majority of residents feel that people do get on well together (56%).

Patras is also a part of the Council of Europe ICC strategy

Limassol (Cyprus)

Limassol is located on Akrotiri Bay on the island’s southern coast. It is the second largest city in Cyprus. It has the biggest port in the Mediterranean transit trade and has become one of the most important tourism, trade and service-providing centres in the area. In 2001, it was estimated to have a population of 228,000*

Limassol traditionally has a mixed population of Greek and Turkish Cypriots. Many Greek Cypriots from the north of Cyprus, who became refugees following the Turkish invasion, settled in Limassol. During the 1990s, several Cypriot Roma (considered Turkish Cypriots according to the constitution) returned from the north of the island. In 2006, it was estimated that 6% of the total population were third country nationals. There is also a relatively large Russian community because of offshore companies operating in Limassol.

According to results from the current survey, Limassol residents have a lot of contact with people from different backgrounds to themselves (either in their neighbourhoods or at work) with 31% of respondents having a lot of contact and 39% a medium amount of contact. Residents are also more likely to have travelled or lived abroad than residents in many of the other cities. A relatively high proportion of residents (61%) feel that their local area is a place where people from different ethnic and religious backgrounds get on well together.

Limassol is also a part of the Council of Europe ICC strategy

* Limassol Census, 2001

Reggio Emilia (Italy)

Reggio Emilia is one of several small, wealthy cities in Emilio Romagna, a region in Northern Italy. In 2011, the population size was estimated at 170,086.

Approximately 17% of the population are foreign citizens of which the highest proportion are Albanians, Moroccans and Chinese (2% of each).

According to results from the current survey, a relatively high proportion of residents in Reggio Emilia (62%) report having a medium level of contact in their neighbourhoods or at work with people from a different ethnic background to themselves (20% high; 62% medium and 18% low). Of all the local entities, Reggio Emilia had the fewest number of respondents categorised as having ‘low contact’ with people from different backgrounds. Respondents are significantly less likely than residents in Lyon and Limassol to have travelled or lived abroad. Residents are more likely than those in most other local entities to report that they feel their local area is not a place where people from different ethnic and religious backgrounds get on well together (42%). Although, a higher proportion of residents feel that people do get on well together (48%).

Reggio Emilia is also a part of the Council of Europe ICC strategy

Valencia/Pactem Nord (Spain)

This local entity consists of Valencia as well as L’Horta Nord, situated in the northwest of the Valencia province. The Consortium PACTEM Nord was founded in 2001 as an instrument to develop the framework of action of the Territorial Employment Pact in the L’Horta Nord area. The city of Valencia and L’Horta Sud currently encompasses a population of around 284,000 inhabitants and covers an area of 170 km2.

It is estimated that approximately 18% of the total population in Valencia are foreigners (in comparison with approximately 12% for Spain overall). In the Horta Nord region, the migrants represent approximately 9% of the total population. The main migrant communities are from Romania, Equador, Morocco and Columbia (each 6%).

According to results from the current survey, it is common for residents in Valencia and PN to live in neighbourhoods or work with people from a different ethnic background to themselves (13% high; 44% medium and 32% low). They are significantly less likely than residents in Lyon and Limassol to have travelled or lived abroad. A relatively high proportion of residents (62%) feel that their local area is a place where people from different ethnic and religious backgrounds get on well together.

Results

About the SPARDA-project

SPARDA is a joint programme of the Council of Europe and the European Commission which addresses public perceptions of diversity in seven European cities. Despite efforts of local authorities to emphasise the advantages of diversity for urban development, most citizens do not recognise these advantages (based on findings of an opinion poll by IPSOS, June 2011).