Panel Meeting on Integration of Migrants and Rights of IDPs
The Eastern Partnership (EaP) Panel on Migration and Asylum met in Prague on 13-14 November 2013 to discuss integration of migrants and refugees, and the rights of the internally displaced persons (IDPs). The meeting was hosted by Czech Republic and co-organized by Azerbaijan. Representatives of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine as well as participants from the 11 EU Member States, international organizations, civil society and academia spent two days sharing their experience and best practices in the sphere of integration and internal displacement challenges.
With continuously increasing migration flows, integration of third-country nationals is equally important for both the EU and its Eastern Neighbourhood. The experts present at the Panel meeting exchanged their views on priorities for integration of migrants and refugees. Academia representatives introduced the subject and explained why socio-economic integration is easier to achieve than civic and cultural. The European Commission representatives gave an overview of different EU policy tools for integration, illustrating this through a presentation of the EU integration website with an interactive map providing access to specific best practices. Concrete examples were presented by Belgium that developed adaptation courses for migrants and Portugal that successfully uses one-stop-shop approach to migrant integration processes. Perceiving immigrants not as a problem, but as a part of the solution, remains key to successful integration. A specific session was dedicated to the rights of the individual, in terms of access to information and counseling.
Another important issue, less visible but not less important for both the EU and its Eastern neighbours, is the presence of several million of internally displaced persons on the continent, majority of whom reside in EaP countries. These individuals are particularly vulnerable, and the experts actively discussed the most effective ways to grant protection and assistance in situations of internal displacement despite the high political sensitivity of the issue. Recent changes in policies of the EaP states (Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia) and cooperation between civil society, international and national stakeholders are crucial for comprehensive and sustainable answer to the IDP situations.
During the meeting, the Panel also agreed on its work plan for 2014, scheduling two Panel meetings on human smuggling and labour migration and two expert workshops on detention of migrants and asylum procedures or reception facilities.