Migration strategies appeared in focus of the current Panel meeting held in Minsk on 7-8 December 2016. Participants from EU Member States and Eastern Partnership countries discussed why it is important for a country, or even for a whole region, to have a migration strategy, how to effectively organize its drafting and minimize obstacles for its adoption and implementation.
The meeting, jointly organized by Belarus and Lithuania with support from the European Commission and the Mission of the International Organization for Migration in Ukraine, was launched by welcome speeches from the respective officials: Mr. Nikolay Melchenko, Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs of Belarus, Ms. Andrea Wiktorin, Head of the EU Delegation in Belarus, Mr. Andrius Pulokas, Lithuanian Ambassador in Belarus, and Ms. Argentina Szabados, IOM Regional Director.
During the session I the speakers were reflecting on the role of a national strategic document in the sphere of migration (Belarus) as well as the EU instruments setting up strategic priorities for its member states, such as the Global Approach to Migration and Mobility (GAMM), the European Agenda on Migration, the Common Agenda for Migration and Mobility and others (European Commission). The International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) explained, based on the experience of the Migration EU Expertise – MIEUX, how to start developing a migration strategy and what should be considered and ensured in the process. Ms. Valeria Ilareva from the Foundation for Access to Rights, Bulgaria, emphasized the importance of a bottom-up approach in designing a migration strategy. Such approach implies engagement of target groups, i.e. migrants and refugees. IOM Ukraine presented an overview of various national approaches to migration management strategies of selected EU Member States and EaP countries.
In the course of the next two sessions the participants got more detailed information regarding drafting, implementation, monitoring and revision of migration strategies of individual countries: Hungary, Armenia, Georgia, Lithuania, Ukraine, Moldova, Azerbaijan, whereas Belarus shared its experience in implementation of border control policy. Dr. Raymond C. Xerri, President of the pan-European organization “Europeans throughout the Word”, expressed his vision of how diaspora shall be involved when devising a national migration strategy, involvement that also allows unlocking the diaspora’s potential, while Ms. Anna Pilat from the Institute of Public Affairs, Poland, spoke about modalities to involve the civil society in the drafting process and challenges associated with it. Denmark drew attention to the need for defining new durable solutions in countering smuggling of migrants and human trafficking.
After the thematic sessions, IOM Ukraine presented the results of the evaluation of its support function to the Panel provided in 2012-2016, including the beneficiaries’ satisfaction rate and recommendations for the future evolution of the Panel.
The European Commission proposed to the representatives of the participating countries to study a draft work programme of the Panel for 2017, which included the following four topics: (i) border and migration management in emergency situations, (ii) return, readmission and reintegration, (iii) prevention of facilitation of irregular migration and (iv) economic integration of migrants, with the view to accept a role of a host for one of those meetings.