Enhancing cooperation among the Prague Process states

The partial mobilisation that was announced in Russia in late September 2022 boosted migration from the country affecting primarily men of working age. Allegedly, anywhere between 300.000 to 700.000 persons left the country in a matter of a few weeks. Given the lack of direct flights and skyrocketing airfare, emigration on land was particularly pronounced. Our recent infographic summarises the situation depicting the most popular destinations and the anticipated impact on receiving states.

On 24-25 October, at the Fourth Prague Process Ministerial Conference, Ministers and high-level officials from the Prague Process countries endorsed a Joint Declaration and Action Plan 2023-2027, which shall sustain and expand the Prague Process cooperation in the coming years. Organised by the Czech Presidency of the Council of the European Union in Prague, the conference allowed the Parties to discuss the most pressing migration issues and agree on a joint way forward in addressing them.

The new issue of the Quarterly Review is released mere days ahead of the Fourth Prague Process Ministerial Conference. Throughout the thirteen years of the Prague Process existence, its Parties continuously discuss the most pressing challenges and needs, facilitate timely exchanges and build their national and regional capacities in the area of migration and asylum. The dynamic migration realities and the multiple crises that bring about new risks and uncover system vulnerabilities require continuous commitment and enduring work. The last quarter has been no exception with the Prague Process implementing several activities and releasing new publications, which all feature in this Quarterly Review.

The Czech Republic is a country of immigration, emigration and transit; however, in-migration is two to three times larger than out-migration. As of 2014, positive net migration represents a primary component of population growth. In 2022, the population of the Czech Republic amounted to over 10.5 million persons, slightly declining from the peak of 10.7 million recorded in 2020.

France, one of the main migration destinations, has a two-century history of immigration due to the industrial and political revolutions. The country is projected to remain an attractive destination based on the Gallup potential net migration index. On 1 January 2022, France had a population of 67.8 million inhabitants. The net migration of 155.000 people contribute to nearly two-thirds of the population increase, which amounts to around 0.25% per year.

Italy is a long-standing country of emigration, while immigration has become a demographically significant phenomenon only in the early years of the 21st century. In 2006, the share of the foreign population in Italy exceeded 5%. Since then, the growth has slowed down, and the number of resident foreigners has remained virtually unchanged since 2013.

Cyprus features diverse migration flows and ranks among the top three EU countries in terms of immigration and emigration rates in the past several years. Since the mid-1980s, following economic growth and the subsequent demand for foreign labour, Cyprus’ net migration has remained predominantly positive. With the shifting of migration routes to Europe and the signing of the EU-Turkey Statement in 2016, Cyprus also become one of the key destinations for asylum-seekers. The country remains de facto divided between the Republic of Cyprus and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and features a so-called ‘Green Line’, controlled by the United Nations.

For the past thirty years, Estonia has been a country of emigration. However, since 2015, the immigration flow has been steadily growing thereby resulting in a positive net migration, which has also been driving population growth against the negative natural increase. On 31 December 2021, 1.331.824 people lived permanently in Estonia, which is 2.9% more than ten years ago. In 2015, 15.413 people left the country, while 13.003 entered it. The number of immigrants peaked at 19.524 persons in 2021. Meanwhile, the number of emigrants has been declining slowly in recent years, reaching 12.481 people in 2021. The shrinking of the population in the primary migration age (20-40) leads to the decline in migration potential of the country and affects out-migration.

Return and reintegration programs provide travel and post-arrival assistance for migrants returning from a country of temporary residence to a country of origin. These programs are not always commonplace in migration management, with some countries preferring to manage departures and any associated departure assistance under general border security functions. In the last eighteen months, the number of return and reintegration programs has doubled in Prague Process non-EU participating states. High-level responses to migration flows are encouraging neighbouring or like-minded countries to find common ground for cooperation and networking for these programs. Some of these programs have the potential to function as part of a broader regional network. Mapping the existence and functionality of these programs provides a starting point for more specific dialogue and action within the Prague Process and beyond.

Large-scale displacement from Ukraine has led to growing concerns about individuals who were considered vulnerable prior to the outbreak of war, as well as those deemed newly vulnerable due to their displacement. Despite the quick rollout of temporary protection, providing adequate support in light of the scale and characteristics of displacement from Ukraine remains challenging – including in Poland, the major destination country.

The article prepared by Justyna Segeš Frelak and Anna Piłat highlights several important aspects regarding the implementation of the Temporary Protection Directive in Poland. It is also available in Russian language.