Nearly 50 experts and officials from Eastern Partnership countries, EU Member States, academia, civil society and international organizations came together in Minsk on 6-7 May to compare their practices in labour migration, focusing on the aspects of admission, protection and control. The two-day expert meeting of the Eastern Partnership Panel on Migration and Asylum was this time hosted by Belarus and Latvia. Different views and approaches to labour migration procedures were expressed in a lively, dynamic and professional discussions of the participants.
Welcoming remarks by the European Commission, Deputy Minister of Interior of Belarus and Deputy Head of the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs at the Ministry of Interior of Latvia highlighted the opportunity to look at labour migration aspects from different angles and discover benefits of labour migration in a long-term perspective for both sending and receiving countries.
The IOM opened the session on the procedurals aspects of labour migrants’ admission by presenting national practices in this spheres as gathered from the participating states before the meeting. The following presentations by the representatives of the Ministries of Interior of Latvia, Hungary and Belarus described in detail how the national admission systems function, which procedural steps should be taken by the employer and employee, what types of work permits exist and which labour migration management tools are used. All three presentations highlighted how admission procedures linked to the national contexts and concrete challenges of the countries in terms of labour migration.
Regarding the admission of specific categories of labour migrants, the European Commission, whilst giving an introduction to the regulatory framework and the practical experience of the EU, highlighted importance of facilitation of legal ways of labour migration, as well as building partnerships and trust. Two examples of EaP experiences in specific admission procedures were represented by Moldova and Azerbaijan. In line with the EU practice, Moldova has introduced a single permit, combining separate residence and work permits in one document, while Azerbaijan emphasized its national policies aimed at attraction of high-skilled workers.
Modalities of cooperation between public and private institutions in the recruitment process was also one of the highlights of the meeting. In this regard, Ms. Halina Komarouskaya, being attorney at Law of Minsk City Bar Association, explained her counseling practice and experience with migrant workers, showcased some concrete examples. Ms. Tesseltje de Lange from the Tilburg Law School, the Netherlands, as well as Mr. Aleksander Smirnov, representing a private recruitment agency, reported how a trustworthy relationship built between a state and private sector can serve as a guarantee of safe employment abroad. Belarus and Azerbaijan presented their national mechanisms for the protection of own nationals working abroad, while Mr. Nicolas de Zwager from the International Agency for Source Country Information (IASCI) stressed the significance of considering migrants’ interests when designing migration policies. At the study visit to the Minsk Citizenship and Migration Unit, the participants learnt the practical aspect of day to day work of Belarusian officials issuing permits in the capital region of Minsk.
On the second day, practical problems and solutions regarding illegal employment were touched upon in the overview of the IOM and presentations by Belarus and Latvia, which highlighted that illegal employment of migrants cannot be viewed apart from the whole labour market processes. Sweden supplemented the discussion describing its new guidelines for tackling illegal employment. Ms. Elena Nesteruk from “La Strada Belarus” and Ms. Zoriana Barchuk from Ternopil City Women Club, Ukraine, shared latest tendencies in fraudulent schemes used to recruit people for work abroad emphasizing increasing activity of such recruiters in social networks.
Finally, the Panel chair reminded about the forthcoming meeting on registration and integration of internally displaced persons and other migrants to take place in Kyiv in June 2015.