This year the annual Prague Process Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) took place in a virtual format on 16 November 2020. Formally hosted by Germany in the course of its Presidency of the Council of the EU, the SOM gathered some 80 senior-level officials from over 36 countries, the European Commission, the EU Council, Frontex, IOM and ICMPD. The event provided an opportunity for participating states to share their current migration policy priorities and needs in terms of international cooperation, as well as to take stock of the Prague Process achievements over the past two years and learn about the activities planned for 2021.
The year 2020 has been challenging for every state and individual, yet international cooperation on migration never slowed down. Migration dialogues are not new to crises. They have the experience and institutional flexibility required to adjust to emerging challenges and the particular needs of their participating countries, which is essential both during but especially post-COVID-19.
As mentioned during the welcome session, global phenomena – such as migration and the corona-virus pandemic – require multilateral and concerted approaches. The Prague Process, being a platform for targeted dialogue on migration, has helped to establish cooperation and ensure trust-building between many different actors. This may sometimes prove more important than formal agreements. The EU’s Eastern and South-Eastern neighbours have made significant progress on aligning their standards on migration and asylum to those of the EU. Meanwhile, the philosophy of the EU’s New Pact on Migration and Asylum resonates to the existing international partnership and regional cooperation approach pursued among the Prague Process parties.
The past two years saw considerable progress in terms of the activities implemented and results delivered by the Prague Process Training Academy and Migration Observatory. The former provided for three face-to-face trainings, a study visit to Germany, as well as the first Online training, which shall soon be accessible on the forthcoming Prague Process E-learning Platform. Meanwhile, the Migration Observatory further expanded its expert network and produced over 30 analytical publications of different scale and nature. The highlight of 2020 was the launch of the Prague Process webinar series, which attracted considerable attention and received excellent feedback on behalf of the attending state and non-state actors.
The future activities of the Prague Process will be aligned to the priorities identified among the participating states through the survey carried out in 2020. The three thematic priorities include (1) promoting readmission, voluntary return and sustainable reintegration; (2) preventing and fighting illegal migration; (3) legal migration with a special emphasis on labour migration.
The SOM also saw the handover of the Chairmanship of the Prague Process Strategic Group from Lithuania to the Czech Republic. Building on Lithuania’s successful leadership over the past two years, the Czech Republic introduced its Roadmap for the coming period, culminating in the fourth Prague Process Ministerial Conference, which shall take place during the Czech EU Presidency in the second half of 2022. In 2021, the Prague Process will launch the process for reviewing the political commitments established by the Action Plan of 2011 and the Bratislava Ministerial Declaration of 2016 and pave the way to the definition of a new political mandate for the years 2023-2027.
The next Prague Process Senior Officials’ Meeting will take place in autumn 2021.