About 50 representatives of EU Member States, Eastern Partnership countries, academia and international organizations gathered in Warsaw to discuss joint opportunities and challenges in the field of legal labour migration.
The two-day meeting of the Eastern Partnership Panel on Migration and Asylum that took place on 6 and 7 November was co-hosted by Poland and Ukraine and provided the participants with an opportunity for exchange on their strategies and policies aiming at maximizing the benefits of labour migration. As usual for the Panel, the meeting was marked by dynamic, open and constructive discussion and a friendly atmosphere among the long-standing partners.
After encouraging and supportive opening remarks by the European Commission, the Polish Deputy Minister for Labour and Social Policy and the Ukrainian Deputy Minister for Social Policy, the first day began with some thought-provoking presentations on the links between labour migration and the demographical changes in Europe, as well as on the direct impact of political changes on the priorities of migrant workers. The European Commission then presented the applicable European legislative framework. This was complemented by a presentation on the impact of European harmonization on national migration schemes in Poland and the impact of economic growth and development on labour migration in Azerbaijan’s policies. In a discussion round facilitated by IOM, the countries had an opportunity to further discuss their mutual policy priorities, strategies and best practices on labour migration.
The afternoon session started with an overview, delivered by Poland and Italy, on the EU neighbourhood policies that are aimed at facilitating cooperation, including on labour migration, with an Eastern and a Southern dimension and a variety of tools designed to manage and support mobility. Portugal then highlighted a good example of circular migration that was facilitated through a joint project with Ukraine, reminding however that labour markets evolve rapidly and require adaptable and flexible schemes of cooperation. Ukraine confirmed this in their presentation, which focused on the particular challenges linked to the situation of countries of origin. The case studies by Germany and Moldova showed how well-managed labour migration can bring positive effects for countries of origin, destinations and labour migrants. After a study visit to the Mazowieckie Province Office, where participants learned how work and residence permits are processed in the region which welcomes 50% of Poland's labour migrants, the delegation was hosted by the Embassy of Ukraine to Poland for dinner and networking.
On the second day, presentations delivered by Poland, Romania and the International Agency for Source Country Information (ASCI) highlighted the importance of involving private actors when planning and implementing labour migration policies. Armenia's case study, focused on the national strategy on labour migration, highlighted once again the importance of addressing mobility in an all-inclusive manner to be beneficial for all parties and to facilitate migrants' return and personal investments into the economy of the country of origin.
The following session was dedicated to European and national policies with respect to granting social benefits to labour migrants and the transferability of those. The presentations delivered by Sweden, Ukraine and the Netherlands highlighted the necessity to find a balance between social protection and the needs of the national economy.
The Panel participants also learnt about the projects done within the Prague Process initiative.
Finally, the Panel also discussed and agreed a draft work program of the Panel in 2015. In 2015, there will be 4 Panel meetings on the following subjects: (i) migration trends and migration data management, (ii) public/private partnerships to facilitate labour migration, (iii) family reunification and (iv) unaccompanied minor asylum seekers.