On 27-28 April 2023, Portugal and the Czech Republic in its capacity as Prague Process Chair hosted the Prague Process Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) in Lisbon. The SOM officially launched the fourth phase of the Prague Process cooperation, following the adoption of the Ministerial Declaration and the Prague Process Action Plan 2023-2027 in October 2022. The meeting gathered 60 officials from 27 countries, the European Commission, EUAA, IOM and ICMPD.
The first session centred on current migration policy goals and international cooperation objectives. These discussions built upon the outcomes of the Questionnaire on national priorities disseminated in December 2022. Key areas of interest included combating irregular migration and migrant smuggling, promoting readmission, voluntary return, sustainable reintegration, strengthening asylum and international protection capacities, and addressing legal migration and labour mobility. Nonetheless, several states also underlined the continued importance of the remaining two thematic areas – namely, on migration and development, as well as integration.
Amidst the deliberations, the Czech Republic, the European Commission, and the Prague Process Secretariat unveiled the 'Comprehensive Action Plan Support (CAPS)' concept. This initiative, proposed by the Czech Chair, received overwhelming support from participating states, with many expressing their commitment to actively contribute to the proposed activities. The action will be funded by the European Commission via the Migration Partnership Facility, which runs several calls for proposals, allowing countries to implement additional targeted actions outside the scope of the upcoming CAPS initiative. The EC has been supporting the Prague Process since its very establishment and considers it to be of particular importance for cooperation with the countries in the EU neighbourhood. Furthermore, the EU Agency for Asylum (EUAA) announced the recently formalised cooperation with the Prague Process that will enable the provision of trainings to the Eastern Partnership and Central Asian countries. These interventions all showed the way towards implementing significant parts of the Action Plan 2023-2027 and enhance the capacities of the Prague Process participating states.
The second day of the meeting focused on migration hotspots and policy developments across the Prague Process region. Martin Hofmann (ICMPD) presented those migration megatrends that are anticipated to shape migration patterns both regionally and globally in the future. Subsequently, Montenegro, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan shared updates on their respective national migration policy developments and migration trends. Ukraine highlighted the continued impact of Russia's war of aggression, while Türkiye emphasized the repercussions of the devastating earthquakes in February 2023. Finally, the significance of Migrant Resource Centres was exemplified by the Centre in Tajikistan.
The SOM thus provided an opportunity for participating states to update each other on recent policy developments and current priorities while also endorsing the proposed way forward for implementing the Action Plan 2023-2027 and draft work plan for 2023.