Crossroads is one of the few places where EU migrants can get help. Photo: Isabelle Swahn/Sveriges Radio

Stockholm hosts EU migrant conference

5:46 min

With the effects of the financial crisis continuing to hit parts of southern Europe, workers from the south of the continent are trying their luck in the north to get jobs and a new life. But starting a new life in a new country isn't easy, and the number of homeless migrants from the rest of the EU is growing in many cities in the north of the union, including here in Stockholm. At the same time, the help that can be offered these migrants is limited, and that can lead to a life of homelessness. On Friday Stockholm City Council held a conference with other major cities to try to get the EU itself to do more.

"I'm worried and I think about it all the time, maybe I don't have luck, maybe not. I try to be optimist," says Dan.

Dan is one of the migrants who have come to Sweden trying to look for a better life, only to discover that the stories that there are jobs-a-plenty in northern Europe are untrue. He has looked for work in Spain, Germany and Finland, and now he has come to Stockholm, and a life on the streets. He is one of the visitors to a help-project in the Swedish capital called Crossroads, which was set up to try to help EU migrants get a job and somewhere to live.

But local authorities have no legal responsibility to help the migrants as they aren't residents, and according to EU rules,  you can't stay longer than three months in another member state without being able to pay your own way, if not then you should go home, but some do not, and stay.

But who should pay for the help efforts? Stockholm City Council wants the EU to do more, and on Friday held a conference for European cities to share their experiences, and put more pressure on the EU. Because this is a problem, Stockholm's deputy mayor Anna König Jerlmyr says.

"It's quite a large challenge", she told Radio Sweden, "even though they are not homeless in their home country, they get homeless once arriving to Stockholm."

She says the responsibility to help the migrants lies on different levels, with municipalities taking care of the short-term efforts. But more also needs to be done both on a national and European level, she adds.

At the Stockholm seminar were representatives from several European and Nordic cities, who all said the issues was impacting on their home ground. At the moment the only two cities in Sweden with projects aimed at helping EU migrants are Stockholm and Gothenburg, but Robert Hammarstrand says the situation in Sweden's second city is slightly different.

"In Gothenburg we have a circular migration," he says, "they usually go back to their home countries. Then they return a few months later. The thresholds on the Swedish labour market are quite high. Our demands for education are high."

Friday's meeting was an attempt to push the EU for more action to help, and the Nordic cities wrote a joint statement, says Stockholm Anna König Jerlmyr.

"We have a letter of intent", she says, " because we want to show the European Union and the different institutions that we want to use the European Social Funds more, and we want to be engaged more as cities when it comes to policies for EU migrants. We want to be a part of the discussions of the solutions ahead."

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