Francesca Berti (Euractiv Italia) interviewed Ilaria Boiano.

Ms Boiano, you are working on the research of the Consulting EUth project, led by Roma Tre. The project is aimed at laying the groundwork in Europe for the implementation of good practices for the involvement of young second-generation migrants in the decisions that concern them. Can you explain the logic and the objective of this project?

Over the years there have been stratified research, draft laws, experimentations of good practices to promote the political rights of migrant and refugee people present in the European States, but in concrete terms it is necessary to acknowledge that their full participation in political life is a theme that has been set aside by the public discourse. The Consulting EUth project was born with the idea of drawing attention to the issue and imagine concrete spaces for political participation of young migrants through an approach that the EU defines as multilevel and multi-stakeholder: we try to join forces between universities, civil society associations and local governments to build conditions that ensure concrete and lasting spaces for participation.

It sounds like a project of great importance…

It is. In various respects. The first one is the geographical dimension. We are 14 partners in 8 European countries. Therefore, a wide and varied partnership, which includes, as I was saying, civil society organizations, local authorities, universities. And then of course in terms of the impact that we hope to achieve. Above all, we will try to give concrete implementation to the most important result we have imagined, that is, stable consultations of representatives of young migrants in decisions that affect their lives and, at the same time, recognize their perspective as a resource in the design of local policies for the entire political community in which they live. Strategic to this end is the presence among the partners of local authorities distributed precisely in the most important countries for the arrival of flows in Europe: Malta, Greece, Italy, and Spain.

What does the research part of this project consist of?

One of the most critical issues of the project is to identify a decision-making and institutional mechanism that is consistent with the specificities of the different national regulations and that translates into a concrete, replicable and durable practice that ensures the full participation of young people who have experience of migration in local deliberative processes.

Not only “formal” participation, but we also hope that the voice of young people who have personal and/or family experience of migration, including forced migration, will have a real impact on local policies.

A first problem is of a socio-cultural nature, a product of the recent policy of law in the field of immigration: the discursive framework of security and emergency that has generated the most recent regulatory changes has clipped the wings of the many laboratories of political participation that over the years have been imagined in European countries and has produced marginalization, especially of the age group between 19 and 24 years.

The first objective of the research activity is to map the local experiments of political participation of the migrant and refugee population in the different European countries and, at the same time, to listen to the proposals that will come from the young people who will form the councils.

The next step will be to understand the potential and the limits of the regulatory framework in which we are moving to ensure that there are formal and substantive conditions for compulsory participatory processes: the goal that all project partners share is to co-design places where a vision of our societies can be elaborated from which local and, why not, national and European policy makers cannot ignore.

And what other initiatives will be taken to achieve the indicated objectives?

The project invests significant resources in the construction of local campaigns built by and for young migrants and refugees to promote their involvement in political life.

Other resources will be invested in launching a hackathon. From the fusion of the words “marathon” and “hacking”, in the sense of exploratory programming in the computer field, we will work on the construction of a format to accelerate creativity and the development of functional ideas to make the councils active, thinking and visible bodies, to produce a concrete impact on our communities, which are in great need of being closer to the living imagination of the many young people who are part of them, but remain unheard.

The Project has just begun but, in your opinion, what are the major critical issues you might encounter?

First of all a certain reluctance on the part of the political bodies of the various administrations to sponsor and make concrete the objectives of stable political involvement of the migrant population present in the territories.

There is also the fear, at the level of local administrations, of not being able to intercept the target group of the project: here the cooperation that will be promoted between local administrations and civil society organizations working on the territories of the European countries where the project activities will be carried out will be crucial, also to overcome a more general problem. We cannot ignore the impact that measures to counter the Covid 19 pandemic have had everywhere in European countries on the 19-24 age group and certainly, as shown by the first social research, it has been even heavier for those who face multiple intersecting factors of discrimination on a daily basis: gender, language, geographic origin, economic resources affect not only the visibility of one’s opinion, but even imagine being able to influence present and future policies; and this is a loss, for all of us, that we cannot afford.

Here the original article in Italian.