On 11-12 October the Eastern Partnership (EaP) Panel on Migration, Mobility and Integrated Border Management meeting on information campaigns took place in Tbilisi, Georgia.
The topic of the event is of great importance both for the EU Member States and the EaP countries due to the recent growth of irregular migration, violation of visa-free and Schengen rules and the asylum system abuse by citizens of the Eastern Partnership countries. Information and awareness raising campaigns addressing prospective irregular migration is a tool increasingly used by European and partner countries. These campaigns help migrants to make informed decisions since they often lack information or rely on false claims. Increasing awareness and changing migrants' perceptions and behaviour is a major challenge: aspirations to migrate are built over time on a narrative of a Europe of opportunities, perpetuated by mass and social media.
As noted by H.E. Carl Hartzell, EU Ambassador to Georgia, in his welcoming remarks, “Unfortunately, the recent statistics have shown an overall increase in irregular migration trends among nationals of the Eastern Partnership countries. This raises serious concerns among the EU Member States and such concerns are equally shared by the partner countries which have already taken action to strengthen their information campaigns and approach the European Commission bilaterally for cooperation and assistance”. The Ambassador also underlined that visa liberalization was a joint commitment of the EU and its partners and that both sides were keen to see their migration policies working properly, bringing them closer together for the benefit of their citizens and communities.
The Panel meeting gathered experts from the EU Member States, the Eastern Partnership countries, international organizations, representatives of civil society and academia to share and promote best practices on targeted information campaigns about the rights and obligations of citizens when travelling visa-free or under the provisions of the Schengen visa, address specific common challenges that may arise in the practical implementation of these information campaigns, and discuss a coordinated approach through which the EU, EU MS and partner countries can benefit from communication synergies and coherence of information and awareness actions.
On the second day, the participants were invited to take part in the interactive session organized by IOM that provided them with an opportunity to boost their knowledge in the field of development, monitoring, and evaluation of effective information campaigns, discuss various important issues and share their practical experience.
For more information and meeting materials please follow the link.