How does it operate?
Regional collaborations of this sort are rare in the Netherlands, which is also partly why the Ministry of Security and Justice now supports and funds this regional collaboration in a pilot project for the “Heart of Brabant” region. In the “Regional Placement” project (in Dutch: “Regioplaatsing”), the municipalities, ministry and Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA) work together to ensure that those asylum seekers with a high probability of gaining settled status are housed near their future place of residence. The cooperation means that asylum seekers whose asylum application is successful can remain in the region rather than being resettled elsewhere in the country. Without this collaboration, Tilburg’s specific endeavours regarding refugee inclusion would largely be in vain if refugees were subsequently dispersed to other municipalities outside the region.
What is the outcome?
The regional collaboration has reduced the socio-spatial exclusion associated with dispersal policies. This regional partnership also makes it easier to exchange knowledge and expertise, to apply for EU funding and it has also even proved to be cost effective. Regional collaboration also makes it easier to offer a broader, more diverse programme of inclusion measures through various local partnerships with civil society groups and social enterprises, such as “Sarban the Future”. Finally, the alliance puts the municipalities in a stronger position to negotiate with the central government.
Who initiated the project? How?
In 2016, when Tilburg’s policy advisors and political officials set to work on developing alternative approaches and practical solutions that would make up for the shortcomings of national policies, they decided not to “go it alone”. Instead, they focused on developing a joint regional approach together with another 10 municipalities, local civil society partners and social enterprises in the “Heart of Brabant” region.