Central and Southern Cluster Meeting
On 28-29 October 2004, the European Commission (EC), the Swedish Migration Board (SMB), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) with the support of the Cross-Border Co-operation/Söderköping Process (CBCP) Secretariat convened a meeting of the Central and Southern cluster countries of the Söderköping process in Budapest, Hungary. The Hungarian Office of Immigration and Nationality (OIN) co-hosted the meeting. Asylum, migration and border guard officials and representatives of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) from Hungary, Moldova, Romania, Slovakia and Ukraine, as well as representatives of international organisations participated in the meeting.
Organised as a follow-up to the yearly senior level review meeting, this event was the second one in the round of the Söderköping process cluster meetings in 2004-2005. It aimed at updating the most recent developments in the field of asylum, migration and border management in the participating countries as well as in the EU, and, as such, focused on looking into possible ways of sharing of the experience gained by the new EU Member States and the candidate country within the accession process with Ukraine and Moldova.
When addressing the participants, the organisers stressed the openness of the process and a possibility to discuss practical issues (OIN), and the on-going bilateral and trilateral co-operation among the participating countries that has been encouraged by the process (UNHCR). They also called for inter-active participation (IOM) and more concrete results within the process (SMB).
The Secretariat briefed participants on the most recent developments in the Söderköping process, the activities of the CBCP Secretariat, and the legislative and institutional developments in the Central and Southern cluster countries since October 2003. An overview of the most recent developments in EU policies and practices on asylum and migration, as well as related UNHCR initiatives was presented by UNHCR. IOM delivered a presentation on labour migration and integration policies, trends and best practices in the EU with special reference to the trends in labour migration in Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus based on the findings of research conducted by IOM. This was followed by a panel discussion on the implications of EU enlargement and recent EU policy and legislative developments for asylum, migration and border management in the Central and Southern ñluster countries. UNHCR also briefed the participants on the sub-regional meeting of UNHCR representatives on Russian citizens of Chechen origin seeking asylum in Europe and encouraged a panel discussion on this issue.
Active discussions took place in the working groups on existing systems and procedures on individual registration, their alignment with EU requirements in the new EU Member States and the candidate country and transferring their experience to Moldova and Ukraine, and on proposals for future co-operation and joint actions within the Söderköping process, including more active involvement of NGOs. The participants stressed the need for exchange of experience on existing in the new EU Member States standards and procedures related to the reception and detention facilities, systems of individual registration, country of origin information in the context of RSD procedure, border monitoring practices, labour migration issues, etc. They also called for a more thematic approach towards the process’ meetings, specific sessions for NGOs, and more intense information exchange.
Based on the outcome of the meeting, the Secretariat will come up with suggestions for further actions within the Söderköping process. The materials of the meeting will be published in January 2005.