From file: Padua city center | Photo: Nicola Fossella / Ansa / Archive
From file: Padua city center | Photo: Nicola Fossella / Ansa / Archive

An Italian reception model to host migrants in families was presented at the European Parliament on Wednesday. It is hoped it will inspire more cities to implement the model across Europe.

The project, entitled Embracin, led by the northeastern Italian municipality of Padua to experiment migrant hosting in local families, has been applauded by the European Parliament after being presented in Brussels on Wednesday, November 30.

As part of this project, more Italian municipalities have signed a Memorandum to form and maintain a network to exchange good practices over the theme of families hosting migrants.

On its website, the project explains that it offers "a new approach to the reception and integration of third-country nationals in Europe." A first transnational exchange meeting of the project took place in 2020. The project says that it wants to make sure that migrants are "embraced as valuable members of our communities," enabling them then, it believes, "to contribute to the European Union as a whole."

Initiative shared by other urban centers

Padua is just one of many cities in Italy to experiment with this possibility. The initiative has in fact attracted the interest of various urban centers including Rome, Milan, Bologna, Naples, Aosta, Verona, Rovigo and many other small cities.

The EU-funded Embracin project was created thanks to Antonio Calò, a Treviso high school teacher who in 2015, together with his wife Nicoletta Ferrara and their four children, opened their home to six African migrants.

In November 2015, Italian President Sergio Mattarella bestowed the OMRI award on Calò for his work hosting migrants. The European Parliament then honored him with the 'European citizen' award in 2018.

Spain, Greece, Slovenia, Sweden and Cyprus follow suit

The teacher's experience inspired a hosting program designed especially for families which has been implemented in three European cities thanks to EU funding: Padua in Italy, and Cadiz and Seville in Spain. Experimental versions of the project have been trialled in Thessaloniki (Greece), Hoče - Slivnica (Slovenia), Sala (Sweden) and Engomi (Cyprus).

"This project is a commitment in line with integration guidelines requested by the European Parliament, it is an important project to fight the pressure coming from conservative policies here and in Rome," stressed Brando Benifei, the head of the Democratic Party (PD) delegation at the European Parliament.

According to data released by the Polibienestar Institute at the University of Valencia, the results of such projects are clear with an improvement in economic integration and access to better jobs as well as a higher rate of social and political inclusion for migrants.

"A model of successful hosting is coming from Italian municipalities" - an "important effort" that was initiated locally in those cities and didn't come from the central government, commented Margherita Colonnello, Padua's councilor for social inclusion.

 

More articles