Panel Meeting on Migration Data Management and Migration Trends
Close to 60 experts and officials from Eastern Partnership countries, EU Member States, academia, civil society and international organizations came together in Budapest to exchange and review their practices and approaches to migration data management, update each other on methodologies for data analysis and discuss how to establish the right balance between data protection principles and efficient usage of data.
This two-day meeting of the Eastern Partnership Panel on Migration and Asylum was hosted by Hungary and Moldova and took place on 5-6 March 2015. As usually, bringing together a multitude of participants with various backgrounds, the Panel was marked by engaged discussions in a professional and friendly atmosphere.
After opening and welcoming remarks by the European Commission, the Deputy State Secretary for the EU and International Relations from the Hungarian Ministry of Interior and the Director of the Bureau for Migration and Asylum of the Republic of Moldova underlined how important the availability of reliable and comparable migration and asylum data is to ensure overall understanding of migration dynamics and allow for timely policy response.
The Hungarian Central Statistical Office emphasized the importance of cross-border cooperation to improve data management systems and harmonize migration policies. This was confirmed by EUROSTAT, also highlighting that interlinking demographic and migration statistics can further improve the understanding of comprehensive processes. Achilles Georgiu from the Central European University (CEU) Business School then demonstrated some innovative approaches to migration data collection. The idea was carried further by the Siim Esko representing the Statistics Positium LBS from Estonia, showing how cell phone user data can be utilized for tracking the movement of persons and migratory flows in a non-personalized manner. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) summed up the session by presenting an overview of national practices as gathered through the pre-meeting questionnaire.
At the national level, Hungary showcased their successful work towards harmonized and unified definitions of scope and indicators for data collection, as well as the importance attached to the triangulation of sources. Tamaz Zubiashvili from the Tbilisi State University presented Georgia’s current challenges and endeavors to create both a comprehensive legal basis and a clear strategy for collection of migration- and asylum-related data. Moldova shared its experience in developing and updating its Extended Migration Profile.
Martin Kahanec (CEU) and IOM elaborated on the processes that lead from data collection to evidence-based migration policy formulation. The CEU illustrated this with three possible basic models of European migration policies (from very liberal to most restrictive) and their probable impacts on the intensity of the migration flows from third countries. The IOM focused on recent developments and progress made in the EaP countries, which clearly show that, whilst no common approach is defined, all Eastern neighbours pay considerable attention to improving their data management and analysis systems.
Moving on to the data protection principles in the context of migration data, Jedrzej Niklas from the Polish Panoptykon Foundation shared discussion-provoking thoughts on the right balance between migration data collection and protection of the fundamental human rights, which can in practice be difficult to observe. Valeria Ferraris, representing the University of Turin added that the risk of imbalance is increased by the low level of awareness of individuals regarding their data protection rights, bearing in mind that more and more data is collect throughout the EU. Moldova presented the practical implementation of data protection principles at the national level. During the study visit to the Hungarian Office of Immigration and Nationality, participants had a chance to get an even more practical impression of how technical solutions can support data collection, whilst maintaining the confidentiality of personal information.
The second day of the Panel meeting was dedicated to migration intelligence and the analysis of migration trends. In terms of planning, FRONTEX explained that its every operation has its specific data collection plan and every activity is based on risk analysis. In terms of reaction to arising trends, EASO shared the functioning of its Early Warning and Preparedness System. The Czech Republic, Sweden and Turkey provided concrete examples of the development of systems for analysis of migration data, and the importance of international cooperation thereon.
During the session on migration trends analysis, Giorgi Gogsadze from the Tbilisi State University linked its recent demographic processes with the migration situation in the country, describing shifts in remittances flows that reflect and increasing connection with the EU. Olena Malynovska, representing National Institute of Strategic Studies of Ukraine, in its turn shared estimations and predictions about Ukrainians increasingly becoming labour migrants in the EU in the coming years due to the conflict and the worsening economic situation. The Panel participants also learnt about migration profiles and the I-map function created by the ICMPD under the Prague Process.
Finally, the Panel discussed the forthcoming meeting on labour migration to be held in Minsk this May and notified the participants on the additional ad-hoc meeting on registration and integration of internally displaced persons and other migrants to take place in Kyiv this June.