Northern Cluster Conference of the Söderköping Process
On 7-8 July 2003, UNHCR, with the support of the CBCP Secretariat and in partnership with the EC, the SMB and the IOM, convened a Conference“Migration and asylum management challenges for countries on both sides of the enlarged EU border” within the framework of the “Söderköping process”. The Conference aimed to (1) discuss the most relevant issues in the context of EU policy developments towards the countries along its future external border; (2) take stock of challenges in asylum and migration management faced by participating countries due to the EU enlargement; and (3) assess needs and expectations of the participating countries as to the role of the Secretariat in the cross-border co-operation process.
The conference was co-funded by UNHCR and the SMB. Asylum, migration and border guard officials from Belarus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine, representatives of Ukrainian NGOs, as well as from UNHCR, the SMB, the EC and IOM participated.
The Secretariat prepared a brief overview of the "Söderköping process" and gave a summary of developments in border and asylum management systems in the six countries based on reports submitted prior to the conference. Presentations were made on the EU policy developments in the context of enlargement and the Wider Europe - Neighbourhood Instrument (EC), readmission agreements and application of safe third country concept (UNHCR), challenges of cross-border co-operation and migration management and ways of addressing them (IOM), and on the new EU border guard curriculum (SMB).
Among the issues of common concern to all participating countries raised during the conference were:
assistance in creating a regional database of reliable interpreters;
networks of contact persons for various tasks; information exchange;
meetings at working level focused on specific topics, study visits, trainings;
drafting proposals for pilot projects in the participating states.
Based on this, the Secretariat will come up with recommendations and suggestions for follow-up activities to address them at the regional level.