The Research Coordination Meeting held on 28-29 June in Vienna brought nine experts from non-EU participating states of the Prague Process together with the members of the Prague Process Secretariat. The meeting provided a first opportunity to introduce the Migration Observatory (MO) concept to the experts present and get their feedback on this initiative. Secondly, the selected experts were invited to present their intended research as per their previous agreement with the Secretariat while also providing feedback on the research outlines of their peers.
The main objective of the Migration Observatory is to address important migration aspects, establish a valued platform for participating states to express their voice and provide policy makers with interesting, up-to-date inputs. Ultimately, the work of the Migration Observatory should increase the limited attention devoted to migration (policy) developments across the Prague Process region, as also witnessed during the recent EU Summit. EU Member States neither have fully recognised the appearance of the Eurasian Economic Union, nor have they paid due attention to the dissolution of the Federal Migration Service (FMS) of Russia. In this sense, the envisaged research aims at filling some existing knowledge gaps and at directly feeding into the discussions of policy-makers. The High-level Working Group on Migration is one such forum that brings policy-makers from the EU Member States together on a regular basis and the agenda of which often contains updates on the Prague Process. For this reason, the envisaged research outputs shall feature a short and concise format in the form of policy briefs and analytical reports. The Observatory should promote good practices and policy recommendations from the Prague Process region and thereby provide inspiration to other geographic regions. This also relates to the choice of topics that the attending experts will investigate further – these do not necessarily represent the most urgent priorities but specific issues that are worth looking into.
While expressing their opinions on the concept of the Migration Observatory, several experts highlighted the challenges deriving from the absence of reliable data and statistics, as well as the limited access to information, especially within the post-Soviet region. Better exchange between the state institutions and academia is key in this regard. The information available throughout the research community does not always reach policy-makers on time. This gap between the evidence available and the policy-making process needs to be addressed by facilitating the interaction between the research community and policy makers. At best, the MO shall be adjusted to the needs of policy makers and provide practical outcomes. While migration is predominantly assessed from a security perspective nowadays, the MO shall provide a more balanced approach. Moreover, the outputs shall preferably be of a comparative nature and go beyond the national context whenever suitable. Finally, the Observatory could also feature a map highlighting the acute needs of every state. Such map could facilitate the policy-making significantly and enhance mutual learning and support.
After discussing the concept of the Migration Observatory, the attending experts presented their research topics and received feedback from their peers. In addition, the Prague Process Secretariat presented the outlines of those experts who could not attend the meeting and collected the immediate feedback and inputs in order to pass them on to the absentees.