Already at the time of publishing the previous issue of the Quarterly Review, it was clear that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic would affect all thematic areas of the Prague Process. A few months later, we can only confirm this assumption. Mobility has halted, many labour migrants and regular travellers are stuck in limbo, remittances have dropped, asylum seekers could not file applications, and return became practically impossible. The focus on the negative trends has dominated the public and political discourse over the past months. For this reason, people get increasingly worried about the future. All current events and political strategies are observed through the coronavirus lens.
Yet, the virus also unveiled some positive developments. Many countries regularised swiftly the stay of migrants and tourists who could not leave because of the imposed travel restrictions. Some went a step further and almost equated the rights of stranded migrants with those of their citizens to ensure the disbursement of social benefits. Germany, for instance, suddenly allowed short-term migrants to seek employment. Moreover, a wave of civil initiatives helping migrants with shelter and food has appeared. The pandemic also forced states to rethink the role of labour migrants in various vital occupations, as they proved critical for the national economy and health systems.
These past few months have also been extraordinary for the Prague Process Secretariat. We successfully launched the Prague Process Webinar series and organised the first online training. These online events gathered many actors who would otherwise not have been able to participate in the usual face-to-face meetings. These various remote activities have hopefully provided a useful tool for state officials to remain informed and keep up with their daily work.
This issue will provide you with a short overview of the activities implemented over the past three months, as well as wider regional developments. It also features a few reading recommendations, including the latest Policy briefs of the Prague Process Migration Observatory.
To see all issues please go to the section "Quarterly Review" under News & Events.