On the crisis front line, local authorities show their capacity for innovation and solidarity

réseauParis, France, June 2020 The series of 14 web conferences that Efus organised over a period of seven weeks in April and May was aimed at responding to the strong need expressed by our members and partners to communicate and exchange on our work topics during lockdown. Indeed, more than a thousand of you attended these online meetings. Efus wishes to thank all the contributors to these debates, which we have decided to hold regularly from now on.

> 1,090 participants and 110 local authorities

In total, 1,090 people registered for one or more webconference, with an average audience of 50 to 90 per session. Furthermore, 110 local authorities were represented, including 68 Efus members and 158 institutions of various kinds (public institutions, research, non-governmental organisations and the private sector).

> A wide range of topics


What was the impact of the pandemic and lockdown on domestic violence, polarisation, the security of public spaces, terrorist threats, solidarity with vulnerable groups, unaccompanied minors, and the respect of fundamental rights, to name a few areas? Efus’ technical team selected the 14 web conference topics based on their exchanges with members and partners. Together, we were keen to examine how the exceptional Covid-19 safety measures were affecting the security of citizens, the working methods of local authorities and security stakeholders, the various types of crime, and European cooperation on security.

> Local authorities mobilised to respond to the crisis


These meetings highlighted the extent to which local and regional authorities mobilised to respond to the local impact of the sanitary crisis. Speakers and attendees exchanged numerous practices, such as, to name a few, the opening of shelters or other housing schemes for homeless people and victims of domestic violence (Barcelona, Bordeaux, Essen, Liège…); local campaigns against polarisation (Mechelen, Rotterdam…); support to Muslim citizens during Ramadan (Mechelen); awareness campaigns against organised crime, which took advantage of the situation to expand its reach in deprived neighbourhoods (Italian municipalities, but also Amsterdam and Rotterdam), and support to unaccompanied minors who found themselves literally alone in the streets of European cities (Bordeaux, Molenbeek…).
Efus welcomes that the network was able to exchange ‘live’ on all these emergency measures and schemes aimed at helping groups of population particularly affected by the crisis. Once again, local authorities have proved their capacity for mobilisation and their fundamental role as the level of governance closest to citizens.

> A strong demand for coordination and sharing


Another aspect that came across is the strong demand for coordination and sharing. Whatever the topic covered in the 14 conferences, attendees called for better coordination between the various public organisations managing crises, whether at the local, regional or national level, as well as with civil society organisations. They also called for strengthened coordination among EU Member States to better respond to crises of this kind, which are transnational by nature.

> The minutes of the 14 April and May webconferences are available on the Efus Network platform (reserved for members)/section Crisis management.

> Register for our upcoming Efus webonferences